In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

Trial Run

I have a tendency to get caught up in rides.  It’s not race brain.  I don’t over-ride my horse in the hope of getting ahead.  I just get busy.  Focused.  Too busy to spend a few seconds testing a theory.

Well.  I need to get over that, because there are things I need to know before I enter Jam in our first 100.  In order to know them, I must test them.  Home testing can only go so far.  Sometimes, you have to experiment with what a particular horse will do at a ride.

For example:

Snacking.  I need to figure out what Jam will eat along the trail when there’s no forage.  Commercial horse cookies are out; he won’t eat those even at home.  What about grain?  Alfalfa pellets or cubes (at water stops), which he’ll eat out of his tub at home?  Please tell me I don’t need to carry a backpack full of hay.  We’re going to try alfalfa-oat cubes on Saturday.

Electrolytes.  So far, I haven’t managed to get Jam to eat electrolytes at a ride, so I always end up syringe-dosing, which he hates.  I’d love to find a less stressful and messy method.  He isn’t a big mash fan (bran or beet pulp), but I have discovered that he’ll eat slightly-moistened, unsweetened COB with half a dose of Quench per pound…at home.  This weekend, I plan to find out whether he’ll do the same during a ride.  I suspect not, but it’s worth a try.  If that doesn’t work, Plan B is to pick up a bucket of Perform N Win, which a recent discussion on the AERC Facebook page indicates is sweet and preferred by many horses.

Plain old calories.  At rides, Jam prefers hay and grass.  This is all well and good for a 50, but I suspect he’ll handle 100 miles better if I can get some concentrates into him.  He really likes dry COB (sans electrolytes) at home, so I’m hoping that will carry over to rides.  We’ll try that on Saturday.

And then there’s me.  I need to get better at sipping water on the trail.  I bought a little-bitty (40 oz) Camelbak at Backcountry Pursuit (shameless plug for you Boise-area readers!) for skiing and riding.  I haven’t actually tried riding in it yet, but I suspect that having  a bite valve right there at my shoulder will help.  I might test this on Saturday, but we’re in for stormy weather so there’s a good chance that particular experiment will have to wait for Fandango next month.

Okay, all.  I have my marching orders.  Hold me to it.




3 responses

  1. Good luck … tackling a 100 this season.. awesome..

    April 26, 2014 at 7:07 am

  2. FWIW, I feed carrots. Like, I cram about 2 lbs of carrots in my saddlebags, and I dole them out as we motor down the trail, trying to feed them all up before we get back to base camp (or wherever I can get more carrots – some away checks have bonus carrots).
    They’re wet enough that you don’t have to have a trough available (I’d worry about feeding alfalfa cubes between water stops). You can easily feed them out of the saddle. We always get As or Bs for guts, even at the most desolate of desert rides.

    Sadly, you can’t possibly feed the horse enough to keep it from looking and acting really pitifully hungry at a 100. It’s psychologically really, really hard on you to insist that your hungry horse keep moving, but you have to keep him going.

    April 26, 2014 at 11:37 am

    • Carrots will probably work for Maji, but Jam doesn’t like them. Danged ranch raised horses!

      May 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

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