Successful 100’s don’t happen overnight.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, a lot of looking at the AERC records of 100-mile horses. There are people to consult and plans to make, equipment to consider, training and experimenting and conditioning to do, and not a small amount of finger-crossing for luck.
First and most obvious, I needed the right horse. Said horse would come with the body, brains, and “bottom” on which to layer careful conditioning sandwiched between abundant recovery periods, proper hoof care, smart nutrition…not to mention the requisite finger-crossing.
Once upon a time, I hoped Consolation would be that horse. She had the mind and conformation, but lacked motivation and eventually retired from endurance due to a mysterious veterinary issue. Giving her up just as she reached the point of being a successful multi-day horse was tough. I spent a few months deciding what to do, and ultimately went shopping.
Late in 2012, I brought home my choice from the kind folks at Belesemo Arabians: HHR Jammazon. Jammer is a big, strong boy with Crabbet/CMK blood. I don’t claim any expansive knowledge of Arabian bloodlines (my strengths in that department remains with the Barbs), but it’s clear that this is no halter horse. Everything from his profile to his croup is less delicate and more practical. His gray hide and black gaze bear the marks of a ranch-raised horse: tough, tested, thoughtful, and bold.
Of course, physique isn’t everything. You need attitude as well. Jammer’s first year on the trail revealed an enthusiastic partner, always ready to motor down the trail — often faster than I’d let him — and maintain a pleasant, businesslike demeanor all day. He’s mannerly around other horses, a good traveler, and reasonably relaxed in camp (a bit talkative at times, but at least he eats, drinks, and stands still). At vet checks, he typically drinks well and settles into his meal instead of gawking at all the activity.
But no horse is perfect. The Jam does have a chink in his 100-mile armor: Like many ranch-raised horses I have known, he isn’t particularly keen on feed concentrates. He’ll eat grain, Strategy, bran, beet pulp, and the like when he’s in the mood, but overall, he prefers hay. This makes it difficult to get Show & Go, magnesium, and other supplements into him.
At rides, he’s even less interested in concentrates. He eats just fine, but he chooses hay or grass instead of anything into which I can mix electrolytes. That means dosing him with a syringe, and even when I mix his ‘lytes with apple- or banana-flavored baby food, he HATES it. Electrolytes notwithstanding, it surely would be nice if he’d consume some kind of concentrated energy source.
I guess that means it’s time to experiment. Is there some kind of concentrate out there that he’ll really love? Maybe a different bran of electrolyte would go down the hatch with less fuss. Perhaps he’d prefer papaya juice to banana mush. Hopefully, it won’t cost me too much to find out!
On the bright side, none of my experiments will go to waste. Majesty eats anything. 🙂