Tarma Eats a 50

This has got to be a top 10 favorite photo by Merri Melde!!!!!

The true measure of endurance for me isn’t just completing on time, or having the vet declare my horse fit to continue at the end of a long day. It’s the week after, especially the first few days after you get home. Do they stiffen up? Look off in any way? Dip any weight? Do the shoes stay on? My biggest question is always Tarma’s back, the Wintec was really hit or miss after a long ride. I’m thrilled to report no hot spots, no rubs, and no sore spots with the Synergist after 50 miles and 10 and half hours in the saddle. All my gear worked, nothing rubbed or sored or broke. Her lunging in the arena on Monday wasn’t quite as fiery as her Friday pre ride lunge was, but she was moving well without any bobbles. Despite being a heavyweight and not as fit as I should be, Tarma looks fantastic.

I rode fairly close to my plan, just overall a bit slower than I’d hoped for…which did lead to quite the dramatic finish! I walked out of camp to avoid any “ride camp” morning antics of our last endurance ride and we had to leave her comfort gelding, who was doing the LD. I did let Tarma settle in a big group in the middle of the first loop, but lost them when I tried to get her to drink at the second tank at 10 miles. She didn’t drink but she grazed a bit so I gave up and we motored along in a bubble, my best miles were in this loop, flying along on a loose rein with the mountains out and singing Hamilton songs.

She vetted through clean and was drinking and eating well, I ate lunch and back out we went for what should have been 10 miles but turned into 12 when I missed a turn and had to hustle back. This worked out as I was stressing for time but a well-known, happy go lucky group caught up to us and removed some of that stress. We tucked in with them and motored right along. Her second vetting was better but I was starting to lose it, my stomach was a washing machine and I felt like puking but I put on my endurance hat and headed out alone at a walk.

Water! In the desert!

I thought this loop would be the hardest to get Tarma to go out on, we’ve already gone be farther than I’ve ever asked us too, but she strode out perfectly on a loose rein with no bit (this becomes important later) ready to eat up more trail. And eat it we did, although I had to walk for three miles and when we did trot I had to two point. I was whooping and hollering when we caught up with Kristen’s group again and man did they save our butts. Tarma was thrilled to have other horses and quickly Seabiscuited her way to the front, eating and drinking at every chance. I hopped off to walk down into the canyon which really helped my knees, so I was ready for the back half of the loop.

I’m a bit mad at myself that twice I got off trail even with the Ride with GPS, the second time Alexis and I went a mile off together and this is when we put the hustle on and I asked Tarma for everything she’d been saving all day and boy did she give it. She wasn’t stopping and when everyone started to canter and I knew I had no brakes I had a panicky moment, made worse by how tired I was I’m sure. But Kristen’s junior popped Tarma’s bit in for me even though we had miles to go and only 30 minutes left, and that made all the difference.

So freaking proud of this amazing mare

Most of them pulled ahead but I couldn’t canter anymore…or so I thought. Tarma’s “in the middle of a herd” canter is hard for me to sit when I’m fresh, let alone at mile 48 with sore boobs and a sour stomach. Kristen let me tuck Tarma behind her horse and egged me on the whole way, only leaving when we were just over a mile out of camp. Her whole group completed two minutes ahead of me, and Tarma and I stole turtle from them. Once we were alone and across the road I just knew we could make it and all my concentration was on getting to camp and Tarma felt it, she picked up her much easier “we’re all alone and I’m not racing” canter and I just hung on and we flew into camp, hollering my rider number right at 7 on the dot.

Immediately Rachel and Terri stepped up and helped me strip tack, sponging Tarma down while I sat and puked several times. Darlene was so patient, helping get Tarma pulsed down, for how fast we’d gone for so long she was down in 20 minutes and vetted through beautifully, floating through her trot out, so naturally I cried and puked again.

I’m so freaking proud of her, Tarma was a war mare all damn day, taking care of herself and me for 50 beautiful, if occasionally rough miles.

As for lessons learned, I poured so much time and attention into Tarma and her gear I made the classic mistake of neglecting the rider (cause we don’t get vetted in for endurance!) I have a SheFit bra and I should have worn that with some anti-chafe stuff, the Nike sports bra absolutely did not cut it. I think it’s a bit worse for me as I don’t generally post, Tarma’s Morgan road trot is smooth enough I either sit or two point and the post two baby boobs…well, they bounce. A lot.

Cooling Tarma down so she can pulse down and earn her completion

The stomach was the hardest thing, and led me to relying too much on friends for Tarma’s post ride care. After she vetted through I basically passed out for several hours with Benny laying on top of me, so my post ride checklist of liniment and icing her legs and walking her every so often didn’t happen, and her legs did stock up (though we soaked them in the Deschutes River on the way home and they were cleared up by her day of turnout on Monday, I think icing and wrapping immediately afterwards would have really helped). I must have puked at least four times, and was up several times throughout the night to hit the head. I did get to see Tarma out flat on her Hi-Tie about 2am, snoring loud enough I could hear her in the trailer!

Aarene posted a thread full of ideas from endurance riders for human food to try for my next 50, so I’m going to take some time to comb through that and tweak what I need. I will admit I have conflated “electrolytes” with the absolute horror that is “Emergen-C” somewhere in my lizard brain and it’s next to impossible to make myself consume electrolytes, made worse when I’m already tired.

Now that we’ve completed a 50, I can adjust my goals for the next one and continue what I love, constantly tweaking gear and food and protocols. I’m going to aim for a 10 hour 50 (instead of a down to the absolute wire 10:30, which would have been majorly helped by not adding four extra miles of getting lost). I’m going to take care of my stomach, and finish well enough that I can take care of Tarma more or less on my own, without the puking and passing out. Everyone’s encouragement and congratulations means the world to me, to be able to succeed in such a tough but fun sport with a sound and happy horse is a beautiful thing.

Pre-ride vetting trot out

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After years of borrowing horses, working to ride and catch riding, I finally have my own horse, a spicy chocolate mare...but also a demanding day job (who doesn't?), a nerdy husband, a soccer loving kid who needs to be parented (by me, duh), and the ultimate trail buddy, a chocolate Labradork!

3 thoughts on “Tarma Eats a 50

  1. WOW! I am seriously impressed. Good for you taking on this challenge and succeeding so well.Tarma is a star for sure. btw there is a Canadian company called KNIX that makes sports bras that keep my 36 C boobs locked down for the dressage sitting trot and myhorse is a bigger moving warmblood. They have a US online store KNIX US. You could give them a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, next up we will talk about electrolytes. My personal preference is Hammer tabs https://bit.ly/43WCZmC because I don’t have to consume a gallon of extremely icky beverage to get the benefit. I have never ever found a specialized electrolyte beverage that didn’t contain too much sugar (or worse, fake sugar) and make me far too gut-sick to do my hydration any good!

    Other electrolyte-esque products to consider: coconut water and V-8. Those are made of food, so they don’t drive my system crazy and I love them when they’re very cold.

    THE THING TO KNOW: no electrolyte will do you any good if you can’t or won’t ingest it. If it isn’t appealing when you’re tired, it won’t do you any good. So, the task now is to find something that will appeal to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow that’s Endurance! You’re an iron woman for sticking that out. and your horse did great. I was also going to suggest Hammer Nutrition tabs. I hate anything that tastes like gatorade (let me go puke right now) but I can drink water with the Hammer any time.

    Liked by 1 person

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