This past Saturday, November 17th, Masquerade and I participated in the Lead, Follow, or Get Out of My Way Endurance Ride hosted at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Arizona.
Some quick statistics and highlights:
We had 39 people watch the race on Google via SPOT and I got great feedback from everyone on the technology from a spectator’s standpoint. Now for the REALLY great news: we finished in 6th place (30 seconds out of 5th) and Masquerade won the Best Condition award of the TOP TEN finishers! This is a very important award as it means you did not run your horse into the ground and you were training and pacing him properly given the terrain and other horses and even though 5 horses finished in front of us. Masquerade was in the best condition and scored straight A’s and B’s across 10 condition criteria even though he did not drink until the final vet check, which is really amazing.
46 horses started the race and 33 finished the race and the rest were pulled by the veterinarians for metabolic and various other reasons. We broke from the pack early in the race on the rocky hill climb portion and at the 2 mile point we passed 3 riders.
By the end of the race this beautiful white Arabian horse was charcoal black with sweat and dust. He has now had a bath and is comfortably resting in the barn and receiving a much needed and well deserved 2 hour massage from the horse masseuse. I, on the other hand, can barely walk and have blisters everywhere and in places I didn’t even know I had skin. I had blood soaked riding gloves on but every finger has blood blisters the length of the finger and for this reason, they will all be taped (nothing gives you more blisters than holding back a 1000 lb. horse for 30 miles who wants to lead every horse he catches…did I mention he hates following other horses?)
In an endurance race when you are at the finish you really aren’t finished yet for two reasons. First, your time isn’t officially recorded until your horse pulses down and with this in mind, there is, in many races, an unspoken rule that at the finish the riders will fall in line for the last 50 yards and trot across the line in order of their arrival at the 50 yard finish so that your horse can start cooling down and also to avoid a situation where you have a bunch of 1000 lb. horses crashing across a cramped finish line and into tents, chairs, timers, VET’s and other horses.
The finish line area is set up to be a ZEN calm area with 1000 lb. horses everywhere who are tired and/or hyper with riders and team members who are all working together to try and relax their horses so they can pulse down and for this reason, you want this area to be as tranquil as possible. Once we were over the line and into the finish line area, I quickly dropped the saddle and threw some water on Masquerade, gave him some hay, and began silently counting back from 240, 239, 238, and 237 and when I could see and feel that he was calming down and relaxing I immediately called for a pulse check. Your time is not recorded until your horse hits a resting pulse of 60 beats per minute. Masquerade in this case was able to pulse down in 200 seconds which is amazing as he was going full tilt for the last 7 or 8 miles. One horse that was ahead of us didn’t pulse down for 7 minutes and for that reason, ended up behind us in the final standings. The 3rd place finisher was disqualified for not pulsing down at all within the allotted 30 minute time period and for this reason, we all moved up a notch. After pulsing down, the VET turned to me and said with a big smile, “this horse is in great shape, what a great ride, you might BC.” We came back a few minutes later and tested for BC and found out that Masquerade won Best Condition as well as 6th place.
For those of you who took the time to take an interest in this ride, I want to thank you for your feedback and I hope this little story and the ride on the Google map was interesting. It was a great ride on a great horse and then to top it off we got the Best Condition award. I’ll post pics of the Romanian team and Masquerade at the finish in the next few days on my Facebook page, The Long Ride Facebook page and website.