Submitted by Tami Rougeau, Team Easyboot 2011 Member.

It has been two weeks now since we finished the 2011 Virginia City 100 and the NASTR (Nevada All State Trail Riders) Triple Crown. It still seems like a far away dream. Probably for good reason, but more on that later.

Photo by Baylor/Gore.

This was my third attempt and completion of this 100 mile event. The trail alone makes this the toughest 100 mile ride around. It is just gnarly rocky and with that many rocks on the trail there is bound to be one with your name on it. The first two times I finished on my big chestnut mare Fancy and we wore glue ons. This year it was her half sisters turn to show her stuff and boy, did she. I will post another story about this remarkable little mare and will try to stay focused on this ride for this story.

Just like the previous two legs of this adventure (Nevada Derby 50 ) and the NASTR 75, this adventure would never have happened with out the most amazing team of family and friends. I could not have done this without you and you know it. I had been on the road with work for weeks and had not had more than 2 hours sleep in months. The plane I arrived on Thursday did not get in till after midnight so by the time I was at the ranch it was after 1 am and my list of things to do was still long. But my husband had done the shopping for every bizarre thing I asked for, had the trailer prepped and ready to go and had been laying out clothing items that I mentioned over the previous weeks.  I love my non-horsey hubby! My friends Crysta and Lucy stepped up to be my crew with instructions to make me do things like eat, drink and stay warm. They did a really great job of keeping the zombie rider and the zippie mare together. When I arrived at the camp site I was also treated to valet parking services by Gina Hall. Now how nice is that! These folks are so great! Of course now in hindsight I am wondering if maybe they thought I was not safe to drive so they just tricked me out of my truck? Anyway we got parked and Gina again came to the recue of my little mare by providing panels so that May and her newest bestest boyfriend could be neighbors instead of her being tied on the other side of the trailer. Yes, I was pretty blurry by this time but there was still lots to do. Pressing on to get those boots glued on.

On a side note, I had forgotten the extra troughs I had promised Connie and when I arrived to camp the electric on my trailer was not working. My wonderful husband came to the rescue and sacrificed his day at the Reno Air Races to bring the troughs and to fix the electric problem. Not only was Connie happy to have the troughs and I was happy to have electricity but it prevented him from getting down to the races that afternoon when the tragic crash happened. It was very sad for everyone.

I had ordered the new Easyboot Glue-On Wides as that is what May measured into and was excited to have boots that fit correctly for a change (see any of my other blogs to read more about my fit challenges). They fit fine 3 days ago down at the ranch.  Now they were not so good on the front, drat. The weather had been wet/dry/wet/dry and I think this had more impact on her hooves than I had anticipated. I was determined to get my boots on before Dave Rabe got there and did it for me. I do not cotton to the belief that the foot should be cut down to fit the boot, too many folks have had issues with that. I also do not trim the week prior to any of these rockier rides. That is receipe for disaster here in our rocky as all get out trails. So I trim about 10 days prior and my boots are sized for the growth that they encounter. The downside to this way of thinking is if you go from a wet climate to a dry climate (or vice versa), the foot can change so you should have a good slection of sizes to choose from.

The number 1 Glue-On Wides went on the back feet nicely. There was a bit of a gap over the dip in the spade of her foot but a little more adhere at that point was easy. Since I did this set there was liberal ammounts of Goober Glue put in to the bottom of the boot and a sparing bit of Adhere along the edges. The GG provided the added padding for the treacherous rocks and the adhere actually holds the boot on. Dave arrived as I was cussing the new front boots that had fit nicely three days ago at the ranch and that now did not fit nicely at all. So out came our bags of tricks, trying on every single size we had. We even had to get one from Henry Griffin from his fit kit (another great guy). In the end we had a 2 on her left front and a 1.5 on her right front with 1W on both rear feet. Dave put the front ones on and he made sure that those boots will never come off, ever. They are still out there now.

Once the drama of the boots was over we just had to wait to vet. All I wanted to do was take a nap but that was not going to happen. Carolyn and I checked in. May would be riding with her NASTR 75 buddy OKAY and she was pretty happy about that already. Boy does she love that big white gelding. I chose to go to the trailer to go to bed instead of going to the ride meeting, I was really tired having only had 2 hours of sleep over the previous 2 days. I made some soup and my amazing, awesome crew showed up so we could go over the plan of attack for the next day. I don’t think I was much help as I was in a vegetative state, only occassionally making some coherent sound that they took for agreement. We had managed to pack the crew bags thanks to Crysta who was totally on top of what they wanted and what I wanted (even when I did not know). So all was well and eventually I fell asleep as evidenced by being really angry when the alarm went off.

The morning was perfect weatherwise. I just love the start of this ride. We all congregate on the main street of historic Virginia City in front of the Delta Saloon. How many posse’s gathered on this very street? What would Mark Twain write of this gathering if he were looking out the window of his room? The history is almost over whelming and it carries you through town almost mystically. If the streets could talk…

The posse crossing the highway. Photo by Lucy
Carolyn and I were joined by our friend Carol who was riding Bishop (another of May’s beau’s who rescued her up on the switchbacks a few years ago). The three of us headed out behind the larger group. May was not handling the excitement very well and I was feeling pretty off kilter so opted to run her in hand down to the bottom of the canyon. That would save my knees for later in the day when I would need them. I should probably mention here that I had been having excrutiating joint pain for the past several weeks and was not so sure how I was going to manage this event and a horse that can be a nervous ninny when she wants to be. Oh well, this is why they call it endurance.
May draining her first tank of the day. Photo by Lucy Trumbull

Eventually we got on and got going at a decent pace, down Lousetown Road then across and over to the highlands where we cross the highway and get our first trot-by. I will now fully admit that there was a very small part of me that hoped we would get pulled. I hurt so bad and was so tired I was having a hard time rating May. She was happy to just trundle along with Okay and Bishop but she was not smooth about it. Jaime said we were good to go. My knee was already swollen and everytime I got off to run it sort of squished and cracked. Instead of crying I just said a big prayer and kept moving. My horse is strong and she can carry me if necessary so off we went, walk/jogging down Geiger grade to the next vet stop near the market.

Leaving the first trot out. Photo by Lucy Trumbull

We made it to the vet check just a bit behind when I had planned to get there but the crews were waiting and everything went well. All three horses vetted in quickly and we went to the crew area to wait it out. Okay ate like a mad man and May stood there nibbling a bit and watching all the goings on. She is bad about doing that and I always worry but usually by the next check she gets the idea that she had better eat. Drinking on the other hand is really her strong suit to the point that I used to wonder if the reason she did not eat so well is because she drinks so much her tummy is just too full. The 45 minutes went by fast and soon we off on the next leg of our journey.

May gawking around while Okay stuffs himself. Photo by Lucy

This is the leg that takes out a lot of riders – Bailey Canyon. I have a theory about why there is so much sandy desert in Nevada. I think that they took all of the rocks in the state and dumped them into Bailey Canyon (any left overs went into El Dorado canyon on the NASTR 75). Every year they add a few more and I think that rain actually makes them grow in size as every year it gets a little worse. At least there is no longer a bear living down there. So we took our time and made our way through then down to Washoe Lake where we had another trot by. For whatever reason by this time I was feeling a bit better and more awake. Jamie gaves us the big thumbs up and we were off again. May was in steady moving mode and hardly held still for me to get back on.

Coming into Washoe Lake. Photo by Lucy

The next challenge of this ride are the S.O.B.’s. This obstacle has been described by many a rider using various expetives. Basically it is three serious downs followed by three serious ups. If Bailey Canyon was not enough of a challenge for the boot fit this certainly was. I opted to walk the downs and have May carry me the ups. May can climb like a mountain goat so all I have to do is stay up off her back and let her go. Since she is not fond of tailing (as evidenced by her stopping every other step to stop and stare at me with a look of total disgust) it is just faster and easier this way. The one good thing about this section of trail is that there is loads of bunch grass so going slow and being able to eat the whole way is a bonus. Once you get through the SOB’s you follow the road up to the reseviour and a much needed water and hay break manned by more amazing NASTR club members. Then it is down the hill and into town for a nice one hour stop.

Trying to get on a moving target leaving Washoe and hoping that we have this much energy on the SOB's. Photo by Lucy

Our crew met us and we vetted through quickly with all A’s except for gut which was a B. No surprise there since May had not started to really eat until we hit the SOB’s. The Glue-Ons were working well for both horses and they were both still perky. At the vet check Okay was on alert for the blowing flag that flies over the camp. They ate, we ate and I even dozed off for a few minutes sitting in the warm sun. Before we knew it, the hour was up and we were off for the third loop that would take us up over Davidson Mountain.

Okay, with Carolyn, Dave and Vet Susan, keenly aware of the flag overhead. Photo by Lucy

We sure made short order of the trip up there. It seemed like no time and we were at the reseviour again and headed to the top of the mountain. About this time I got a text from Lucy asking me if I was happy. She had actually sent the message hours ago but it just appeared. She was a bit concerned at my less than energetic persona apparently. We were about an hour behind my previous years times and I was pretty concerned that we were not going to make it. Carolyn kept reassuring me that it would be fine. As the sun was setting on us I was not so sure and kept wondering where we had lost so much time. That slow start was not good but on the other hand all of the horses were very lively and stepping out well especially since the temperature was dropping. Up over the top and then down to the highway crossing where our super crew was once again waiting for us with water and food. All of the horses ate and drank well.

Off through the rolling hills east of the highway, up to Sign Hill for water and then through Six Mile Canyon and back to Virginia City. As we were making our way through town we found Andrew Gerhard. He had taken a wrong turn somehow and was on the wrong road trying to find camp. He came in with us and ended up joining our merry little group. We all vetted through and headed to the trailers to get set up for the final leg of our journey. Head lamps and jackets along with glow sticks were all in order. By this time we knew that we had plenty of time and way loads of horse left. We set off back through town and back through the canyon the way we had left so many hours earlier.
May and Okay

This loop has several memories for me and I can’t help but think of all of them when I ride it, especially at night. This was my first 100 back in 2007 on my other mare, May’s sister Fancy. We rode the whole loop by ourselves and even though I was never sure we were on trail Fancy just took charge and got us through. It was this ride that forced me to finally get my knees fixed when the vet threatened to pull me, not because of how my horse looked but because of how I looked. My very good friend Teri was crewing and thank the Lord she was there as she reassured him that Fancy was in charge and would take care of me. So he let me go with firm instructions not to get off the horse (which was not going to happen for any amount of money as far as I was concerned). This time was a far different experience. May, Okay, Bishop and Martini were strong and quite full of spirit as we headed out on the flat of Lousetown Road. Carolyn and I had decided that we would let them make time where the footing was good and take advantage of having so much horse until it looked like we should slow down. Well that lasted for almost 90 minutes when we over-ruled and forced them to walk a bit. They had just trotted out the whole time and we were doing the loop faster than we had ever done it. Amazing!

Super Crew in action. Photo by Lucy (the other half of the super crew!)

At the Cottonwoods hold they all once again vetted quickly with great scores and once again we were met by the greatest group of volunteers. There were blankets, cocoa, soup, coffee and a camp fire. It was a very nice 20 minutes. My only complaint was that Patty Meserle was not there with her famous home made soup that saved my life in 2007. It took Teri over a year to finally break down and tell me that it was actually Lipton instant soup. Regardless, it is still a very fond memory for me and I will always look for Patty’s soup and anyone who ever asks “what is the best thing you ever ate at a vet check” I will tell you that it is Patty Meserle’s home made chicken noodle soup, which she makes in her camper no less! She is amazing for sure. This is your reward for making it that far I have determined and it is well worth it, even if it did originate in a paper baggie.

So we sauntered out of the Cottonwoods with loads of time and happy horses and a big bright moon to light our way. We shared stories of rides and riders and when we hit the sandy wash I had to chuckle a bit. This was the area where the previous year Lucy was convinced that there were large rocks and boulders and that we should be walking. It is a sandy trail 3-4 feet wide without a rock on it. But it is yet another fond memory that I have of this ride.

We made it back through the canyon and up to the finish in fine time. Apparently May did not know that the ride was now over and she could relax. She insisted on trotting (i.e. jigging) all the way back through town and into camp. By this time I was pretty done and although it had been a fun day I was ready to be done and for her to take it easy on me. Jaime caught us up as we came in and vetted us even before we got a chance to hit the trough. He is very efficient and I was into following direction at this point. He gave us his classic smile and a good job, congratulations and we headed to the trailer.

Lucy was there again and was instumental in getting the tack off and put away.  What an amazing crew I had in Lucy and Crysta.  They took such good care of May and I all day.  Once May was settled I hit the bed and went into a total coma.  The next morning dawned bright and warm. We got up to watch the BC judging and mill around until the awards. Breakfast was served and boy was it good. This is another of my fond memories of this ride – breakfast. Complete with steak and eggs, this is one of the best, and you can even get a bloody mary in the Ice House if you want one. I love Sunday morning of the Virginia City ride. Awards were presented (see Lucy’s VC 100 story for a complete rundown) and May ended up 14th on the 100 and 6th in the Triple Crown. When Connie asked me to say something I was too choked up. My little Amatzing Grace who could not even stand on three legs when I walked her home was a Triple Crown horse. She was clumsy and fretful but so loving and sweet I just fell in love with her and often wondered what on earth I would ever do with her.

She now has two hundreds to her record and has more than proved herself as a steady going endurance horse. I love this little mare and I love this ride. No matter how hard it is and how many rocks they put in Bailey Canyon I cannot imagine not doing this ride if I have a horse that is up for it. It certainly helps to have a good trail companion and a wonderful crew but the volunteers of the NASTR club are top notch and they really make the ride. As time goes on it gets harder and harder to put this ride on but somehow they persevere – thank you!

Connie and Shardonay. She keeps this ride going with the NASTR team. Photo by Lucy.

So if you have not done this ride you better put it on your bucket list and save your money up. You simply have not done endurance until you have done this historic ride in this historic area. Oh yeah, and if you do make it be sure to get your boots on. If there were ever a test of the Easycare boot lineup, this would be it. And boots are the only way to go.

Thanks to everyone who helped May and I through on this one, we could not have done it without you.