Santafenewmexican.com - Full Article
Horse's health a key factor in Caja del Rio endurance ride
by Staci Matlock
9/6/2009 - 9/5/09
Winning a 50-mile endurance ride depends a lot on knowing when to go slow.
The first horse and rider across the finish line is the victor, but only if the horse stays healthy.
The 17 horseback riders in Sunday's sixth annual Caja del Rio endurance event west of Santa Fe knew coming into the veterinary checkpoint too fast would raise their mount's heart rate and cost them valuable time. Marcelle Abbott and Philip Langenscheidt of Alamogordo finished the first 21-mile loop in two hours, but walked their gray Arabian horses toward the end and dismounted 100 yards from the check-in at base camp.
Their horses quickly met the "60 in 60" required pulse rate (60 beats in a minute). They were given a time 45 minutes later to start the next loop of the 50-miler. Horses that don't meet the test have to wait until they do, delaying the start time for their next leg of the race. "That penalizes a rider who comes in too hard," said Larry Nolen, a Pojoaque-based equine veterinarian who checked the horses as they came through.
Abbott and her 13-year-old gelding, Natta Lotta Gold — aka "Junior" — finished two 55-milers back to back in mid-August at the six-day Fort Stanton Pioneer endurance race. This was her first time at the Caja del Rio event. "I ride conservatively," she said, after Nolen had checked Junior over for any signs of lameness, dehydration, and digestive or heart problems.