Pictured: Wendy Carnegie on Myna’s horse, “Disco”, and Colleen Perkins (of Merrickville, Ontario) on Wendy’s horse, “Bolt”.
To say the ride at Souris Bend was hot would be a gross understatement! The heat was one thing but the humidity added to the fun! I’m sure the temperature drove away a few but there are always the hard core riders who will give it a whirl. We are slightly nuts but in a good way, not the lock them up and throw away the key way.
I went out on Wednesday to help Myna with the trail marking, signs, water etc. That evening we wandered around eating copious amounts of Saskatoons while placing ribbons along the route. Myna had done a lot of the work before I got there so I mostly helped with the berry eating. We filled copious numbers of water troughs in anticipation of the forecasted high heat. We also set out addition pails for sponging as temperatures were rising and it looked like the forecast wasn’t going to be fake news.
On Friday people started to roll in and it was decided a much earlier start would be in order. Some of us went swimming and wading in the river to cool off and then it was a very early bed time.
Saturday was an early start but it was at least cooler. There were 4 of us in the 50 and we headed out trying to get through the first 15 miles at a bit quicker pace while it was cool. We knew we would have to slow down later in the heat of the day.
If you’ve never ridden at Souris Bend you really need to go! It is such a challenging trail and so, so much fun! I have yet to do the river crossing but one day I will get to the other side to see those trails! The climbs and the descents are a bit dramatic but generally the horses handle them well. When I got to the Steep Hill where Serenade’s saddle went over her head last year I thought it wise to lead her down. Well forget that idea! I ended up letting her go before I ended up cartwheeling down the trail with her! Her pace to go down the hill and my idea of speed for the descent certainly did not match! We made it through unscathed fortunately and we continued on our way.
After the first loop, the horses all pulsed in well and soon we were back out on the second loop. But the heat was ramping up and it was starting to show with the horses. By the 3rd loop I could tell Serenade was having trouble with the heat. While still game to go forward she was panting to try to cool herself. Towards the end of the 3rd loop we went down to the river and stood the 4 horses in the river sponging them constantly. While Serenade’s heart rate monitor showed her pulse was 77 she was still panting. We stayed for about 20 minutes then headed back in. While I got her down to the 64 pulse rate I knew we were going to call it a day as the heat was just too much for her. She’s a full bodied mare and I was too worried for her well being. We will live to ride another day. Tia seemed to be handling the heat somewhat better however her rider looked a bit worse for wear. A pinch runner was found so that there was no swooning in the trot out lane. We continued to cool Tia however, as her pulse didn’t drop like it should, it was felt that it was in her best interest to stop so we did.
The final 2 riders headed out on the last loop but now they were facing the clock as there was about 2 1/2 hours to complete the final 10 miles. You may think that’s a ton of time but this is Souris Bend AND it was about 36 PLUS humid. I’m happy to say both Wendy and Colleen finished and while their horses looked tired both pulsed down well at the end. Excellent job ladies!
The 25 milers had somewhat the same story. I think there were 6 starters with 3 finishing. 2 got somewhat lost on the trail and had a rather interesting adventure of their own. We were quite relieved to see them come back in!
One thing I have to mention is what a wonderful horse community I am privileged to be part of. We would come in and people would jump up to help us cool our horses. We had a new rider come from the US and she was in there like a dirty shirt! Roberta is now one of us and we hope she will make our rides a must. Endurance riding is always a learning experience. I will try different cooling methods but perhaps Serenade just isn’t a hot day horse. Time will tell but I have at least one more trick up my sleeve.
Myna Cryderman is the keeper of the trails for Souris Bend and without her dedication to preserving the trails I’m really not sure what will happen. We hope to go out the September long weekend to do the river crossing and check out the trails on the other side. I’m expecting there will be one or two “Steep Hills”. As always thanks to Glenn Sinclair for not only vetting our horses but helping us cool them and then checking all the remaining horses before heading home.
Next stop: Belair. Hope to see you there!