Best 100 mile advice (equine)
|August 11, 2023||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Once you get to the 100 mile distance there are no magic bullet-point lists to get you through your first 100 mile ride. Instead, getting advice from as many experienced people as possible and trying a little of “this” and a little of “that” is the recipe to a completion.
Many years ago before facebook groups I belonged to a 100 miler email list (anyone else remember that?). There was a spreadsheet of all the 100 milers, oodles of ride reports, and best of all….nuggets of 100 mile riding advice.
I miss those email groups. At some point, when I realized that facebook groups were going to take the place of the email list I decided to try and preserve the best of the wisdom that I had learned on that email list. Some of it I agree with, and some of it didn’t work for me – but it worked for others and might work for you.
How to Ride 100 miles
Note: when I could I’ve tried to give credit. Some of the uncredited bullet points are my own, and some belong to others whose names I’ve lost the names over the years.
Before the Ride
- Try to sleep as much as you can Thurs night-Friday AM before the ride. Sleep in if possible, since that’s your last night for a good sleep in your OWN bed. (this will depend on when you’re leaving, either way sleep before ride = GOOD). Crysta
- Do not try or eat strange foods the night before a ride
- It’s easy to override your horse. Harder to get them ready without overriding. If you can get your horse through the first season of fifties all you have to do is maintain. It’s mostly mental now.
- A good rule of thumb for both running and riding hundreds is to ask yourself often during the first twenty miles if you could maintain your current pace all day and night. If the answer is no, then slow the eff down!!! That’s how you find your long trot.
- Long-trotting = trotting without stopping at a pace you could maintain all day if you had to (also called the “100 mile trot”). Lucy
- Just laying down and giving your eyes and brain a break even if you can’t sleep the night before the ride counts as rest.
- Skills to master before the ride: get back on smoothly after dismounting, tail up a hill (and steer), figure out the art of layering your clothes.
Packing Out & Saddling Up
- Double check tack
- Don’t forget stuff you need in the morning, when it’s o’dark:30 its easy to forget about heat-of-day type items –Did you put flyspray on the horse? What about bug spray for you? Sunscreen? Body lube? Sunglasses (it will probably still be dark out)? Crysta
- Think of extra stuff you may need/want as things get dirty and/or wet: riding gloves, SHOES AND SOCKS, bra, a clean sweatshirt/jacket for in the evening (not the same as morning), etc. Crysta
- Pack light – literally. The little stuff adds up in your saddle bags to big weight. Get into the mindset of a backpacker and start weighing your choices (literally on a scale) and when faced with two equal essentials, pack the lighter.
- Bring what you need, leave what you can. You will be able to find what you need when you need it, and be less likely to drop something on the trail.
- There is lots of ways to carry your gear on the trail. Some suggestions are: fishing vest, backpack, saddle bags, road bike jersey, ultramarathoners vest.
Just Keep Going
- Ride vet check to vet check – small bites at a time. You’re not riding 100 miles, you’re riding 8 miles to the water stop…I’m not even going vet check to vet check, go water to water if you need to. Heck, 8 miles is all? That’s only (insert familiar training loop here: i.e. N parking at Washoe to Main Equestrian and back), that’s nothing.Visualize your familiar loop if you need to (oh, I’d be going along the beach right now, etc). Crysta
- Make SURE you take some down time to just sit and relax at each check. Take the time to take care of YOU – especially early in the ride when you don’t think you need to – as it will pay off later. Crysta
- I HIGHLY recommend changing into fresh clothes sometime after the 50-mile check. I can’t stress this enough. It sounds so simple, but you will feel SO MUCH better. Bonus if you can at least manage a quick wipe-down with a wet towel or some baby wipes. Crysta
- Let yourself draft
- It’s not uncommon for you to have a low point at some point in the ride and your horse to have a bit of a low point too, preferably not at the same time. 🙂 The answer to this is to simply hang on, wait for it to pass, do a little special self- or pony-care and tell yourself that
this too shall pass. Patti
- Make a plan for water, sports drinks and food and PRACTICE THE PLAN (and stick to the plan)
- Practice riding+eating and riding and then eating
- Eat, drink, never say die, go at night with someone who knows the trail Funder
- It is really hard to eat at night. Set that timer and live by that timer
- Bring a meal-replacement drink or some sort of easy fast calories. Make sure you keep eating and drinking all day – ESPECIALLY after dark. I quit drinking in the dark and got some vertigo my first 100. At least chug as much as you can everytime your horse drinks, especially at night. V8 can be magical if you like that flavor. Crysta
- Don’t underestimate the value of REAL FOOD. My fave is a Sub sandwich. I go to Port of Subs (local Subway but better type chain) on Friday and have them make me a sandwich (no oil or vinegar – less soggy) and cut it into 2″ sections. Double wrap and bag. So easy to just grab a small slice with one hand and put food in while doing horse stuff or other stuff with the other hand. Have some sort of easy (one-handed) food to eat. For me, having something MOIST that doesn’t require a ton of chewing works best. Having stuff in small bits is better too, easy to just grab a tiny slice and get it down than be faced with the whole thing (I’m not a good eater at rides). Crysta
- My crew buddy’s husband was running the 50 prepping for a 100 mile ultra run and so his trainer was there. He gave me some ridiculously intense cookie at mile 68 and told me that he was just trying to get as many calories in me with as few chews as possible. My crew took care of the horse and he just sat and watched me eat and said “chew, swallow, have some water.” Repeatedly. He also told me that the perfect vet check food for an endurance event is cold pizza. The right mix of carbs, fat, etc. He told me he knew I was in trouble when he saw me eating fruit and yogurt with granola at an earlier vet check (he suggested I pour a WHOLE lot more granola in the bowl; I should have listened). So now I try to have a couple of pizza slices in a ziploc bag in the cooler. Patti
- For me that is one of the primary differences between a 50 and a 100. I can get thru a 50 on almonds, a few pieces of cheese, a yogurt drink and water. Not so a 100. Patti
- I make anti-bonk cookies now to have in my cooler. I bake quite a bit so I just wing the recipe, but you name it, it’s in ’em. Oatmeal, peanut butter, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, etc. If I don’t eat them there is always some pathetic looking rider who needs one. Patti
- The “perfect” vet check food while the horse eats for me is: little bagel(s) with peanut butter and grape jelly, cold chicken, (protein helps your stomach have something to work on), pringles (my choice is sour cream and onion but that is suggestive) you need salt, (on a bike in a triathlon, the pringle can fits in a water bottle holder). Bonus suggestion, late night, warm chicken broth and or flat coke. Chips, warm chicken broth and flat coke are some of the late night foods of choice in ironman tris. Keith Kibler p.s/ not in a tri or marathon, but in endurance, I also LOVE fritos
- Most GI issues are electrolyte and hydration related. Monitor your water intake, take your electrolytes on time, and trickle in the nutrition.
Lighting & Riding at night
- Ride at night at home, even if it’s in your arena or pasture. Hang some glow bars.
- GLOWBARS – I do prefer to use these at night, especially [at some rides] since you’ll have no moon and it’s going to be pretty dark …Your horse won’t need them, but it will help you to see and you’ll strain your eyes less and perhaps be a bit more confident. Use electrical tape or duct tape and tape both ends to the breastcollar. I like to use 3, one on each strap. Place the two on the shoulder straps as close to the CENTER as possible, NOT up high. Trust me on this one, it’s not fun to have glowbars bouncing around at the edge of your vision with each swing of the shoulder, very close to the middle is best. Crysta
- I have a headlamp with a *red* light setting that I have mounted on my helmet for night riding (I have an extra older helmet for this). I got it at WalMart, it’s Coleman brand and has lasted forever. It’s handy to have for reading maps, checking tack, etc without ruining you or your horse’s night vision. Mine also has a white light setting which is helpful for checking pee color if wanted. Crysta
- If you have some clear lens glasses, you may want to wear them on the night loops [if the] ride is in the trees. Crysta
- Use electrical tape to tape your headlamp onto your helmet all the way around. (Mel)
- Have food and water some place that is REALLY easy to access and easy to put back. Otherwise you won’t, or you will lose in the dark. (Mel)
- Don’t go crazy with too much light on the horse. Don’t try anything in its tail, and get a headlamp that will turn ON in red if it was turned OFF in red.
- Carry an extra headlamp in your saddle bag.
- Give specific crew instructions. Don’t expect them to figure it out or for them to just know what to do. Give them specific instructions even if they are experienced crew or endurance riders.
- Keep your crew small.
- Keep spare tack in your crew bag. It seems like the motto for 100 mile riding is “well, that’s never happened before!”
After the ride
- Give your horse time off after the ride. The exact time will depend on the horse, difficulty of the ride, and other factors. Generally 1 week per 25 miles if there was no injuries or issues is a good rule of thumb.
- Don’t hesitate to treat with a veterinarian if any issues or if your horse is slow to recover!
- Never give NSAIDs without accessing the hydration of the horse.
- Allow sufficient recovery time before trailering home, depending on how long the drive is.
- This may offer hope to those who have tried 100’s or have done one and decided it hurt too much to try another. I am not sure if doing 100’s is getting easier, or if my nerve ending have just died. But this year, after doing zero 100’s since 2008, I decided to go all in and try as many as I could. The first one wore me out, and during the 2nd one I had nausua and vertigo issues. But after that, the last four 100’s this year have each gotten easier. At the AERC National Championship 100 mile ride last weekend, I made it through the ride on 4 Advil. Even better, 30 hours later we did the 55 on zero pain meds.My thinking is that like with any new activity, lifting weights, running, hauling hay bales, etc, it hurts at first until you learn to adjust and be more efficient. Then it gets easier. So if you have tried a 100, or completed a 100 and decided the pain was not worth the reward, think about doing more instead of less. Paul
A lot of it is contradictory in the details, but the core of riding 100 miles is this:
* Nutrition for you
* Nutrition for the horse
* Just keep going
PS. What is missing? Do you have a nugget of wisdom that should go on this list? Email me and I’ll continue to add to this post.
More PS. I asked ChatGPT for their top tips and advice for riding 100 miles. Their response was not….wrong…..but I can assure you that AI is not ready to write my blog posts for me! Here’s the “helpful” advice I was given:
Hey there! It’s awesome to hear that you’re into 100-mile endurance rides! Given your passion for horses and ultra running, you’re likely well-prepared for these challenges. Here are some tailored tips to make your 100-mile riding experience even more enjoyable and successful:
- Train Smart: Just like with ultra running, gradual and consistent training is key. Make sure your horse is well-conditioned for the distance, incorporating long, slow distance rides to build endurance.
- Nutrition and Hydration: Both you and your horse need to stay properly fueled and hydrated. Pack enough water and food for both of you during the ride. Electrolytes for your horse can be a lifesaver.
- Pacing is Everything: Don’t start too fast! It’s a long journey, and pacing yourself will prevent burnout. Keep an eye on your horse’s energy levels as well – they’re your partner in this.
- Trail Familiarity: If possible, get to know the trail beforehand. Familiarity can help you plan your strategy and anticipate challenging sections.
- Gear Check: Ensure your tack is comfortable for both you and your horse. Avoid trying new equipment on the day of the ride to prevent discomfort.
- Vet Checks: Take advantage of vet checkpoints to ensure your horse’s health. Listen to their advice – they’re experts in assessing your horse’s condition.
- Crew Support: Having a reliable crew can be a game-changer. They can assist with food, hydration, and even moral support during tough moments.
- Mindset Matters: Your mental attitude is crucial. Stay positive and focused, and remind yourself of your training and achievements.
- Emergency Kit: Prepare for the unexpected. Pack essentials like first aid supplies, tools, and a plan for handling any issues that might arise.
- Enjoy the Journey: Remember to soak in the breathtaking scenery and the bond you share with your horse. This is an incredible accomplishment, so celebrate the milestones along the way.
As a veterinarian with a deep understanding of your horse’s well-being, you’re uniquely positioned to excel in these endurance rides. Feel free to adapt these tips to your expertise and style. Good luck on your rides, and may the trails be ever in your favor!