Even Great Ride Management Cannot Control the Weather
Outstanding ride management can help with a lot of things at an endurance ride, but with a heat index well over 100 degrees (temps in mid 90s with very high humidity) and combined with what is a challenging ride, this ride was difficult for many.
On day one, I took pictures of riders in the morning in heavy fog, then again at a water crossing until my wife Patty came through and indicated I needed to help her in the pit area. (Sorry for those I missed at the water crossing on day one) She was concerned about being able to cool down her horse and also being able to manage our second horse (they are buddies) in the pulse and vet areas. Earlier that morning I had gone and picked up 6 bags of ice and filled our coolers. When Patty arrived with Merlot, the first bag of ice I put into the warm water disappeared almost as soon as I put it in. Bag two cooled the water and lasted long enough to start cooling down the horse in the pit area. Three bags of ice later, and almost out of time, we were finally ready to go to the pulse area and go through the vet check. As we looked around, we could see that everyone was having the same struggle. The vets checked core temperatures. By the end or the ride many had been pulled and several horses needed treatment by the vets for fluids.
Team effort / Extreme Heat at Endurance Ride
With so many having difficulty because of the heat and humidity, it seemed to me that there was a real team effort to help people out. Shannon Loomis who was the treatment vet on day one, brought out a very large fan and opened up her canopy (her daughter was riding) for anyone who was having trouble cooling their horse. People were sharing ice and making trips to the nearby convenience store for more. I told the store owner that we would probably buy out their entire supply, but she told me that she had another shipment arriving in the afternoon just for our ride. By the end of the weekend I had purchased 30 bags of ice for our horses and others.
On Trail / Volunteers / Well marketed trails / Water
There was lots of water on trail and Patty told me at one point that there was resting area with various grains, and a hose with cool water to spray off your horse and cool them down. Almost everyone took the time to get off to hose and cool their horses. Riders slowed things down and sponged their horses in the creeks and water crossings. Here is one rider’s description of the day. She rode the first day and was pit crewing for some friends on day two.
Day two was 6 degrees cooler in the morning with less humidity
On day two, the temp had gone down at least 6 degrees. The high humidity was much lower and there was clouds hiding the sun for most of the morning. My wife had downgraded to the 25 mile event rather than do another 50. She was glad she did. Although the morning was much cooler and less humid, by afternoon the sun was beating down again and things heated up again.
Now, for the photography from the event. Click on this link:
Some water crossing photos
The water crossing provided good opportunity to cool the horses while on trail. Teaching your horse to allow you to sponge can be an important strategy at endurance rides. Patty (the middle rider in this first picture) tried out sponging and almost ended up dumped in the water, but the riders ahead and behind her were both sponging. Teaching her horses to allow sponging is one of her training goals.
Some of the horses found the photographer who was sitting in a fold up lawn chair along the shore of the creek to be quite interesting. I’ve learned to start talking and not be too still for too long to help the horse identify me as a human. It helps with ears up for sure though.
News about the heat of the weekend on the radio / Flooding the day after the event
This ride was on Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Patty and I left on Sunday late afternoon. “The hottest Labor Day weekend since 1913” was one thing we heard on the radio has we drove home. On Sunday and Monday there were heavy rains in the area and much cooler temperatures, but Samantha (the ride manager) took pictures of this area and the water was close to the ribbons in the trees and was probably impassable. Here are a couple of photos from her Facebook page.
Here are a couple more video clips from the day. You can see the heat in their faces. Even with all the heat, people enjoyed the ride and the challenge:
Peter DeMott Photography • 937-478-6222 •
Check out some on the trail videos here: