Sinatra and I DID IT!!! =) We fninished our first 100 mile ride on Saturday (well Sunday morning) at the Sunriver 100 up near Bend, Oregon (6/18/2006). We came in around 1:30 a.m. in the morning making for a ride time of 17:24. I took off his bridle at 20 miles and rode the rest of the way in his rope halter. He did GREAT! Hit a little slump between 45 and 50 miles in the heat of the day, but a 45 min vetcheck near the river with lots of food and water took care of that. We cantered out of camp at 70 miles and did the next 14 miles in slightly less than 2 hours in order to make the time in the daylight. I cannot believe how STRONG he was in the cool/dark. I was having to stand in my stirrups to slow him down, even at 90+ miles. =) And it was DARK in the woods with no moon since it didn't come up until we were done. There was a group of 3 of us, Leslie Spitzer on JAC Eagle, Pamela Swartz on Fanny (another JAC horse) and Sinatra and I, that started and rode together all day. Leslie and I had ridden 3 50's together so we knew the horses were very compatible.
This is our 4th season of doing rides, we only did 1 50 our first year and try to get to 6-8 rides a year or so. We had 600 miles in 50's and 200 in LD before attempting our first 100. We've had several pulls, only 1 for a slight lameness, the rest have been "rider learning curve". We never ride fast (he is NOT a fast horse, comfortable trot speed for him is ~ 7-8 mph). My fastest 50 was about 7:30, we've been working on a 6 mph average for the last year of so and doing well with that. Before then I wasn't concerned with time, just getting in long slow miles.
I work full time, go to school part-time (6 credits of online classes), do the bookkeeping for my husband's business, and have an almost 4-year old son. I usually only ride ONCE per week, maybe twice if I have that Friday off (I work 9-hr days and get every other Friday off). I may only ride for 10-20 miles on my one ride, but do try to "train hard" and move out most of that ride if at all possible. My boy prefers a trot over a canter though so that's what we normally do. I live in Reno, NV so depending on the trails I picked we may do a fair amount of walking due to the rocks or steep downhills (we do trot up in training).
Suggestions and tips –
1. Don't make too big of a deal about riding 100-MILES. I went into this ride with the mindset that we would go as far as we could. It was just a "test ride". If we got pulled, then no biggie, there is always another ride, another day, another chance. I'm not quite sure when this mindset really took hold but once it did I became really relaxed about the whole thing. I was even able to sleep really well!
2. I really liked the opportunity to do a back-to-back ride on him before moving up in distance. I did back-to-back 25/25 before doing a 50 and a 50/50 (early May) before doing a 100 (mid-June). I thought if we could do a 2-day and ride the second day the same conservative pace as the first, then we were probably ready. Since I ride slow(er) normally my boy was fine with being out for a long day and he REALLY takes care of himself, so I don't have to worry about him not eating or drinking. If he passes up water, then I know he's not thirsty, not that he's too caught up in the ride, etc.
3. People said to ride vetcheck to vetcheck and that did really help. Our longest stretch without a check was the last 16 miles and we had a few 14-15 mile legs as well. I've done rides with 20+ miles between checks so that helped as well. Having a crew (my mom) was new for me since I've never had one before. Having her be able to meet me with cold refills for my bottles, cook meals in camp, help with mashes, carrots, glowbars, etc. was invaluable for my first 100. I probably could have ridden without a crew and sent out bags, etc but it was sure nice to have the extra help. She was invaluable and I'm probably permanently spoiled now.
4. We went more conservative in the morning and afternoon (especially as it started to get warm) and made sure to take plenty of grass breaks for the horses as well. My boy isn't the best in the heat so I made sure to get off and scoop water on him when available. We were riding last all day so I could use as much as I wanted! =) I think going slower really helped them around dusk when we were going faster to make time before it got dark and then in the REAL dark (forest with NO moon) when we didn't stop for grazing breaks as we couldn't see if there was grass. We only had 2 B's at the 70 mile check on guts and muscle tone but those improved to A's and we finished with all A's. Those grades were from 4 different vets who have never seen my horse before, so I was quite pleased.
5. Take care of YOU and make sure your crew takes care of themselves as well. I drank and ate something at nearly every stop. The one I didn't (the very last vet check) I started getting dizzy after that. I'm sure it was becuase I had started to neglect myself and was dehydrated, tired, and hungry. During the day I ate (keep in mind I do ride as a Featherweight so YMMV):
4 am - Chocolate generic-brand Slimfast
Morning on trail - 1 string cheese
Breakfast @ 20 miles - 2 scrambled eggs with little bit of cheese in a tortilla, 12 oz V8, Yoplait peach yogurt smoothie
Out Vetcheck @ 34 miles - fruit cup
On trail before lunch - 1 string cheese
Lunch out vetcheck @ 50 miles - ham & swiss lunchable with crackers, 12 oz V8
Dinner in camp @ 70 miles - skillet meal with chicken, shrimp, penne pasta, squash, bell peppers and some creamy sauce, 1/2 of a large Mocha Frappachino and a bottle of water
Out Vetcheck @ 84 miles - rest of Frappachino (I should of had more, I wanted a Slimfast but we didn't bring one, solid food didn't sound good)
In camp after finish - Apple cider and 2 packets of oatmeal before going to bed
I've been feeling really good drinking the Powerade Option (Powerade version of the Gatorade Propel flavored water). I was drinking those without mixing or cutting with water straight all day. Finding a drink that didn't make me sick (Gatorade does during a ride only) was important. There isn't a lot of elytes in these so I think that helps and there are is a LOT of sodium and potassium in V8 so I made sure to drink one of those every so often. I can stomach the elytes when they are more "natural" like that as opposed to commercially added. I went through about 20 oz of fluid every 10 miles or so, and could have probably drank more. I did have to pee often enough and the color was pretty good but I think it caught up to me in the end when I did without for a little while. Anyways, I felt really good nearly all day. I did have some dizzyness/vertigo after we had been out several hours in the dark, mainly when we were stopped for water or something. I'm pretty sure it was because I stopped drinking as well and started to get dehydrated and tired.
6. Go for rides in the dark. There was a group of 3 of us that rode together all day and although it was the first 100 for 2 riders and 2 horses (same pairs), we were all familiar and comfortable riding at night. This allowed us to keep the same pace in the dark as we had during the day, and the horses were adapted as well. I think this was management's biggest concern, they thought we would really slow down in the dark (know it was our first 100) and then not make it on time. I think they were VERY surprised when we either were faster on that same leg than in the day (making time in the dusk) or the same pace as in the day in the actual night. We actually cut 30 minutes off the lead of the rider ahead of us, since she just walked in once it was dark and we continued to trot sections.
7. Don't overtrain. I guess this is definitely dependant upon YOUR horse, and maybe I use it to make myself feel better a little, but I think having a well rested horse who was ready to go was a BIG plus. I didn't ride him the two weeks before the ride, managing a ride the weekend before took up a lot of my time and we just didn't get out. I rode him lightly on Friday out from the finish for a couple of miles and that was it. In fact our 6-weeks leading up to the ride was May 6-7 - 50/50 at Washoe, ride times of 8:20 or so both days. Technical, hilly, rocky rides, great conditioning. May 21st - 15 miles, May 27th - 12 miles, May 29th - 10 miles in the sand, June 4th - 18 miles in the hills. Then a short ~4 miles on Friday the 16th and the 100 on the 17th. I will probably try to work more in the hills and heat in July after Sinatra gets a break as I'm contemplating doing Tevis this year.
I just cannot believe that WE DID IT!!! =)