Submitted by Karen Bumgarner, Team Easyboot 2016 Member
Last June I added the Sun River 100 miler near Bend, Oregon to my ride list. This is a great mountain ride in the Oregon Cascades. It's not really a hard 100 but a deceiving ride as the hills are long gradual climbs for miles and miles, not rolling. I really wanted to do another 100 and not get the vertigo in the dark, as I had done two years ago. The year before that, Tami Rougeau and I had picked up a sick rider along the way who became hypothermic and we were just lucky to get her into the finish! At the last minute my Junior decided that she wanted to go, so she came along with my gelding, The Big Brass. Ah, the more the merrier!
The plan was to ride with Tamara Baysinger who was doing her first 100 on HHR Jammazon. My friend, Beth Nicholes, leading Junior rider on my horse, The Big Brass, was also trying her first 100. All the horses were outfitted in Easyboot Gloves and we happily trotted through the Deschutes National Forest into the first vet check. My two boys also had a spot of SikaFlex in their boots for extra cushion and to keep dirt out.
Some things are just not meant to be, however, as misfortune can deal a heavy blow. Sadly, Brass was a tiny bit off at the vet check, so Beth had to stay behind and wait for a trailer back to camp. Bummer! Hate it when that happens but endurance riding is like that. We had a lot of downhill and I suspected trotting all the downhill was part of it. The next day showed his back a bit sore so that was going to have to be addressed but the problem had nothing to do with his hoof protection at least.
Thunder and I trotting down the trail after vet check two.
I'm not a potato, I carry "stuff". It's a 50 mile loop so I have my EasyCare Stowaway bags, my E-Z Ride caged stirrups and Thunder has his Gloves on all four. I'm prepared, and while I may not need all of that, I have it just in case I do. And the fact that Thunder carries it comfortably and that I can easily ride with it and not fuss with it, means stress-free miles for both of us. Happy miles mean a lot bigger chance for success especially when you are chipping away at 100 miles!
One of the things I love about this ride is you travel above the Deschutes River and get some great views. In the afternoon there are people in canoes and small boats on the river and it just looks so appealing and beautiful! This was Thunder's and my third Sun River 100. I've ridden it many times over the years and always enjoy it. The snow capped Mt. Bachelor plays peek a boo through the trees and at different points on the trail. Tamara and I also spotted a couple deer late in the evening.
We left camp and the final vet check before dark and trotted for about an hour before the darkness claimed the day. In this particular area the ground was rough with some rolling rocks here and there under the loose dirt. Not really a great place to trot in the dark. We also had some uphill on the two track roads in the forest. But as the hill gave way to more flat, and the ground improved, it was time to trot. And now came my personal test. Could I trot without vertigo? Thunder started trotting and I tried not to think about any vertigo. It wasn't long before I realized all was good and life was fine! The horses felt good. Neither Tamara or I had a single boot problem all day and we were feeling confident those last few miles. We knew we were closing in on horses up ahead as there was a bit of dust hanging in the air. We never caught them though, they finished 10 minutes ahead of us.
It was nice to ride into the camp amid cheers and people waiting at the camp fire. Beth had our horse blankets and we vetted through just fine! A total of 23 started and 16 completed! Our time was 16:43, certainly not speedy but I was happy with it! No vertigo and this gave Thunder four 100 mile completions. Helping my friend get through her first 100 was a great bonus! It was a fun ride and I'm looking forward to another 100!