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Big Horn 100 - Shell, Wyoming

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2006 Steph's Story || 2006 Joyce Anderson's Story || 2006 Dr Dave Brown's Story || 2003 Tom Noll's Story

2010 Stories:
Bighorn Stories - Cindy Collins || Bighorn: The Most Unpredictable Ride of Them All - Kevin Myers
Bighorn Crew Story - Carrie Thornburn || Ronnie's Report,Big Horn 100, 2010 - Ronnie Eden
An Outlaw Rides the Big Horn Trail - Tom Noll & Frank || Big Horn 100 2010-And Beyond - by Lucky 6 Nellie(with help from Marirose)
Another Big Horn Crew Perspective - Dan Ward
Darlene & Lumpy do the Big Horn 100, 2010. Our Epic Adventure, Part I - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part II - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part III - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part III, the Final Installment! - Darlene Anderson

Darlene & Lumpy do the Big Horn 100, 2010. Our Epic Adventure, Part I - Darlene Anderson

July 14, 2010

This ride was 7 months in planning for me. My entire endurance season in 2010 was centered around preparing my Nero for the Big Horn 100 in Shell, WY. My friend, Max Merlich, with his mule, Junior, had attempted the ride in '06, coming in 3 hours past the cut off time after spending a long night on a trail that had no markings or lights. He felt he had this monkey on his back, the Big Horn Monkey. He had slain a similar monkey when he completed the Tevis Cup last year after not being able to finish in '08. He decided it was time to get the Big Horn Monkey off of his back. My boy, Nero, turned 8 in April, and I had completed 2 seasons of successful 50's along with three 75's. I had prepped him for the Mt Adams 100 miler with my mom riding him. I felt strongly that Nero needed a close 100 miler before I drug him 1000 miles to attempt one! That was the day that Nero found this first rock with his name on it. I spent the next several weeks trying to decide if he was lame or sound. It's excruciating, this dance we do with our horses. I knew in my head that Nero wasn't going to the Big Horn, but I took him to the Sunriver ride anyhow, hoping upon hope that this was all in my head. Nope...he was off at the vet in. No Sunriver, no Big Horn for Nero. All the hard work I'd put into him since January came crashing down and all I could do was hang onto his neck and cry. I must have been quite a sight, because Terry, who is ordinarily very protective of who rides his horse, Lumpy, came over, put his arm around me and told me he was sorry that Nero & I wouldn't be joining he & Max the next day. That was a really big moment for me. Some of my friends told me I should ask Terry to use Lumpy at the Big Horn. Nope, I wasn't going to do that. Earlier in the year I had made some crass joke about borrowing Lumpy if Nero didn't make the grade for some reason. Terry gave me to understand that under no uncertain terms would Lumpy be going to Wyoming if Terry wasn't going to be riding him and he saw no reason he should go to Wyoming to ride for any reason! I suggested he might come & crew & he stated that the only way he would be going to Wyoming was if he was riding. Well, I already knew where he stood on that point. I got it, if Nero couldn't go to Wyoming, I'd be crewing for Max & Junior. Terry and I had differing views of the Big Horn ride. I think a man is surrounded by all that he *must* do in life and gets to focus very little on what he *wants* to do. Men are brought up to provide for their families, be the hunter & gatherer. There is no time for taking off willy nilly to drive 1000 miles and ride all day long. There is important stuff to be done, by golly! Terry even asked me, at one point, when I was going on and on about the Big Horn...again...if perhaps I hadn't overstated my goals a bit. One thing about me, if I put my mind to something, I get possessed by it. Max and Lisa had made the offer to haul my horse & I to Wyoming to compete in the Big Horn ride, & by golly, that's what I was going to do! So, no, I didn't feel I had overstated my goals one bit. I finally had something meaty to sink my teeth into and prepare for. It's been controlling every decision I've made for over 7 months. So, here I was, bawling on the fence holding my beloved and lame Nero at the Sunriver Ride. I was unabashed, inconsolable. I know, silly...taking things way too serious! In that moment, Terry told me I could take Lumpy to the Big Horn ride if he completed well at this one. Really? Unlike myself, Terry Ross doesn't tend to "overstate his goals". He's spent a great deal of his life staring at his reality and doing what he could with it, which is quite a bit really.

Terry and Lumpy did have a great ride at Sunriver, as did Max and Junior, after suffering a sad pull at the Grizzly Mtn ride in April. So, wow, this Big Horn thing, it was really going to happen for me! I spent the next three weeks in a frenzy, getting Lumpy's coggins and health papers together, arranging for him to be shod to his best advantage for the ride and worrying constantly if he was going to be able to handle the road trip. Lumpy has been a special horse for us, but he's not been without his challenges. When he gets to worrying about things, he gets this wrinkle above his nose and over his eyes. He gets what I call, The Stares. He'll stand at his fence and just stare into space. He won't eat or attempt to take care of himself. He just stares. Lumpy hadn't had a case of The Stares all season though. He finished the 75 at Home on the Range and also Mt Adams. He also finished the 50 at Klickitat Trek and Sunriver. Each ride that he completed, he amazed me in a different way. Lumpy was a different horse this season than he's ever been since he started the sport.

When I started making Big Horn noises, my good friend, Patty Peck, offered to come out and crew for us. Then about a month before the ride, I received an email from Fish Creek'er, Kendall Bardsley, who asked to come & help us also. Are you kidding? Dory Jackson knows how to train a pit crew! Woop! Max and I had a first rate crew in Lisa, Patty & Kendall. Only later did I fully realize how much I loved this crew we had!

Last Tuesday, I got off work late. We were to head over to Sandy to stay the night with Max and Lisa before our 3 am departure for Wyoming. I started to get fussy, but realized this wasn't a big deal. I had packed all of Lumpy's gear into a large foot locker that Terry dug up for us. He labeled it "LUMPY" on top so we would know where to find Lumpy's stuff. I had fixed up a "nighttime helmet" at Max's suggestion so we could just change helmets when we headed out on our dark loops. This was a great idea. My own clothes & possibles were packed already as well, so off we went around 8 pm to Sandy. We put Lumpy & Junior together for the evening where Junior promptly let Lumpy know who was boss. Lumpy was actually quite tolerant of this considering he's the top dog in our pasture and Junior is one of the bottom dogs in his. We found that rather entertaining. Perhaps Junior just saw the opportunity since Lumpy had the audacity to show up for a 100 mile ride dressed in foo foo. No, he didn't ask for the wild colored slinky or the dreadful purple sheet I put on him. In fact, he reminded me that his brother, Stranger, also hates anything remotely foo foo. Hey, I really had a driving need to show up to the Big Horn ride with a clean and shiny horse! Lumpy wasn't impressed.

2:30 am came REALLY early! Max, Lisa and I drug ourselves out of the rack and had the Boys loaded up and hit the road by 3:15 am. Things were really coming together so far. I decided a boring road trip with horses is an ideal road trip with horses. We stopped faithfully every 3-4 hours and unloaded the Boys. I'm sure now that Junior was back there giving Lumpy lessons in Mule Behavior 101 and Lumpy was an eager student. First time out of the rig around Heppner, OR, and Junior heads off over the mountain, towards Sandy. It's like he knew where he was going or something! Lumpy, the eager student, proceeded to drag me off through the pucky brush after Junior. Fortunately, Max has a few moves of his own & soon reeled Junior in. Junior rolled, took care of some boy business and had a few bites of grass with Lumpy copying every move. This was great! No Stares, no stress, just a really cool grey horse who was eating like there was no tomorrow.

We hit Pasco & decided to have a Subway sandwich while Max filled the truck. Back onto 395 we went. Received a call from Lois Fox, who brought her Mocha horse and rode out to the ride with Tani Bates, Alyssa Marre and Marjan. They had left on Tuesday and wow, they were only in Ritzville about 50 miles in front of us! Lisa had taken over the back seat with her 5 books. I had gadget central set up in the front seat, playing the part of intrepid navigator. I took a Terry-esque ribbing about the amount of electronics that I drag along on road trips. Hey! I brought a couple of books too! I was shooting pictures, updating my Twitter and facebook accounts with the progress of our trip. Our last Washington stop was in Sprague, outside of Spokane, where we found plentiful grass, which the Boys ate with enthusiasm. Around 4 pm, our time, we pulled into Bill Brown's veterinary clinic, near Missoula, Montana, where we were to spend the night and let the Boys rest. There was a small lean to shelter and a large paddock with an automatic waterer for the Boys. Lumpy was very mistrustful of the automatic waterer, but he got over it by morning. We took the Boys out for a 5 mile stroll to loosen up their traveling muscles. Both felt limber and ready for a 100 mile ride. Max nearly had a stroke when he saw how much mash I made for the Boys. He was convinced that Junior was going to blow up before we ever hit the Wyoming state line! Lumpy though...he never quit eating, finishing bowl after bowl of mash all weekend long. I was still marveling at just how lucky a girl I was to get to participate in this Epic Adventure with Max and Lisa! Patty & Kendall caught up with us in Missoula and we were all ready to hit the road again by 6:30 the next morning. This was beginning to feel real for me!


Lumpy looks darling in his "clothes", but Max finally shamed me into taking them off because Lumpy looked so humiliated. ;)
Photo by Darlene Anderson