Ride Tie How to Get Started by nbb15623

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									Ride & Tie:
or the July 2005 issue of Western Times, I wrote an article about a Ride & Tie event that I’d attended in Whiskeytown, California. One of our readers, Marianne Govan, wanted to find out more about the sport. Marianne gave me a list of specific questions, which I turned over to two experienced Ride & Tie competitors, Carol Ruprecht and Melanie Weir. What level of conditioning should the horse be in, and what kind of training should I do to prepare my horse for a Ride & Tie? Carol: I first want to say that I am delighted to learn you would like to try the sport of Ride & Tie, Marianne. It’s a ton of fun. To answer your question about t h e con-

How to Get Started
by Kathleen McFarren

F

dition of your horse, it depends a lot on how competitive you plan to be. If you and your partner will mostly walk during the race, then your horse doesn’t need to be in top condition. That’s because your slower pace means your horse will have plenty of time to rest during each tie. If you want to be more competitive and do a 20- to 25-mile race, your horse will need to be in better condition. He should be fit enough to trot, canter and walk in a ratio of 40 percent, 40 percent, and 20 percent for a four-hour time period. He should be able to do this under the same conditions (heat and hills for example) he will face during a race. The sport is about taking advantage of the horse’s athleticism to catapult your runner to the forefront of the team. To get your horse in condition for these longer races, you should canter him on hills for half-mile to one-mile stretches at a time. Walk him for a while and then canter again. During a race, you’ll probably trot a lot because it’s a safer gait for tricky footing, but you do want your horse in condition to go faster when the trail permits. A horse holds his conditioning much longer than a human.

Melanie: With regard to feeding during conditioning, the most important part of the diet is good quality hay and lots of fresh water. But I would say

What is essential for a successful finish are good riding skills.
that most veterinarians don’t recommend feeding straight alfalfa. Having other kinds of hay rounds out the diet and having hay available at all times is good for the horse. Feed supplements are not always necessary unless you know your horse has a particular nutritional deficiency. If you’re having trouble keeping weight on your horse, supplements can certainly help to increase calories and fat. Your veterinarian will be knowledgeable about supplements and nutrition and can make a recommendation. What level of conditioning should the two people be in, and what kind of training should they do to prepare for a Ride & Tie? Carol: The main thing for you to think about is your feet. How long can you hike without swelling or getting blisters? Unless you run marathons already, you need to get your feet in condition to withstand four hours of work.

It’s completely unnecessary to run for four hours, but you need to be able to hike for that amount of time. Make sure you are hiking trails, and be sure to include hills. Walking up a steep hill uses different muscles than running the same hill, so condition for what you plan to do during your race. Your running skills are essential for winning, but they are completely unnecessary for finishing successfully. What is essential for a successful finish are good riding skills. Ride & Tie athletes (all three of them) go across rugged hilly terrain as fast as is safe. Good riding and good judgment are what stand between you and an injured horse. If you are not an equal runner to your partner, do not insist on doing “your share” of the running. The point of this sport is to use the talents of your partner, your horse, and yourself to the best advantage of the entire team. If your talent is riding, then do more than your fair share of the riding. Melanie: I have focused more on building my endurance rather than speed because I want to be sure I can go the distance. You’re out there with your horse and human partners for a lot of hours (it took us eight hours to finish our first World Championship race), and you need to be prepared for it, both mentally and physically. Don’t forget the importance of having your feet used to working that many hours, not just your muscles.

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February 2006

What is a Ride & Tie?
A Ride & Tie is a relay-type endurance race made up of teams of three: two people and one horse. One person rides the horse a mile or so and then hops off, ties the horse to a tree or bush, and takes off running up the trail. Meanwhile, the other person, who’s been running, arrives at the Carol along with her partner and father Ted. horse, unties him, and rides another distance up the trail, passing by the other teammate. The two people continue alternating back and forth between riding and running. The winning team is the one in which all three teammates have crossed the finish line before any other team. Ride & Tie races are held throughout the United States. The 36th annual Ride & Tie World Melanie on Kamanche in 2004 at the 25-mile Manzanita Ride & Tie, where Melanie along with her partner Rick. Championship, which is Kamanche took the best condition award. Photo courtesy Melanie Weir. open to teams of all levHow far you will need to Melanie: It’s good to What kind of equipment does ing your training sessions so els, will be held near San go while conditioning depends have a horse that will respect my horse need when doing a there are no surprises during Diego, California on July on the distance of the event the tie. Even if you’re confiRide & Tie event? the race. You shouldn’t change 1st 2006.
you’re planning on doing. Keep in mind that you will be covering about half the distance on foot, depending on the running strength of your human partner. It is important to be able to ride pretty well. When you’re on the horse you should be resting. If you don’t ride very well, then it is not really a break for you and you will get fatigued much more quickly. What particular skills should my horse have? Carol: The only essential equine trait is a willingness to go. Those precious short times you are on horseback should provide you with a chance to recover from your ground time. If you have to keep urging your horse to go, you won’t get much rest. Your horse should also be comfortable with your leading him while you’re on foot. Sometimes during a race, you might need to dismount and lead your horse down a hill or through a tricky part in the trail. dent that your horse ties well, it is really helpful if he has had some practice being tied to a tree while the rider walks away and horses go by before being exposed to this in a race. Early in a race most horses don’t stand very calmly, so it helps if the horse has an idea of what is expected of him. During my horse’s first few races, we did not leave him alone during the first two to three ties of the race just to be sure he didn’t change his mind. Even now I will keep an eye on him if I have any doubt about his standing for the tie. It’s good to practice this close to home before trying it in a race. Other helpful skills include riding alone, riding on trails, crossing water, and riding with other horses at a variety of speeds and in close proximity. If a horse tends to kick, you should put a red ribbon on his tail. The horse should also be able to stand still while being mounted, carry items on the saddle, and camp overnight. Carol: You’ll need a tying rope, which can be any kind of rope you decide to use. Normally, we use a climbing rope that is six to seven millimeter thick and six to eight feet long. One end is securely attached to the horse’s halter. The other end you tie to a bush or tree with a knot. Or, in place of the knot, you can attach a metal clip called a carabiner, which is available at climbing or outdoor stores, such as www. rei.com. I prefer the carabiner because I can simply sling the rope around a bush, click the carabiner, and take off on foot. Melanie: There is no reason to spend a lot of money just to do a Ride & Tie. Most people already have what they need, except perhaps the Ride & Tie rope and climbing carabiner that Carol mentioned. As for saddles, it really doesn’t matter what kind you use, but lighter is better. It is most important that the saddle fit the horse well, and it should have been used regularly duranything on race day. You might consider having a sheep skin saddle cover, which makes the saddle more comfortable. If you are planning to ride in shorts, the saddle cover is highly recommended! If you are planning to ride in shorts, be sure you’ve ridden in them during your training. Since you will be riding in running shoes, I recommend stirrups with cages, such as EZ-Ride stirrups. These cages prevent your foot from sliding all the way through the stirrup, which can cause a serious injury. There are EZ-Ride stirrups for most kinds of saddles. They can be purchased from www. sportack.com. It’s important that the horse wear a halter that has a ring to which you can safely attach the tie rope. I usually use a Biothane halter/bridle combination, but sometimes I use just a halter alone. You can also put a bridle on over the halter. If your horse is used to being ridden with any kind of

Western Times

February 2006

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protective leg gear, then use it. Also, I suggest having an EZ Boot on board in case your horse loses a shoe on the trail. Ask your farrier what size is right for your horse, and practice putting them on your horse. It’s vital that you and your horse are very familiar with all your gear before a race. What kind of equipment do the people need? Carol: If you can afford it, for longer races, consider purchasing two different models of running shoes for yourself. That way, you can change your shoes — as well as your socks — at each vet check. You will be amazed at how happy tired feet are to feel a dry pair of shoes, and they can help prevent blisters. You will need pants that you can wear while running and riding. Some people run in shorts and put a full wool cover on the saddle to prevent chafing. Others wear tights and ride in their usual saddle. I prefer running tights. Over the tights, I wear Neoprene knee braces

(available at drug stores) over my calves to prevent rubbing and wear and tear on my tights. The same result can be achieved by wearing ladies’ panty hose underneath the tights. You also need some method to carry water on yourself. I recommend a CamelBak hydration system, which can be purchased at a bicycling store. Some runners like to have a water bottle in each hand. Others wear a holster belt where they can place their water bottle while not in use. Endurance riders tend to attach a water bottle holster to the saddle. Melanie: The humans need comfortable clothing that they can run and ride in. What people choose to wear varies greatly. Some ride in shorts and t-shirts. Others race in riding breeches. I wear a running top that wicks moisture away, along with riding tights or running pants. You just want to be sure that nothing chafes or rubs. You don’t usually need a jacket unless it is really cold, or if it is raining. Then you’ll want a jacket that is waterproof or very water resistant Women should

consider wearing a sports bra. Good running shoes are a must. Trail-running shoes can be good, unless it’s muddy. Comfortable socks are also vital. I always recommend a helmet, especially at the beginning of the race. But accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. Be sure you always have a snack with you in case you get hungry and to prevent low blood sugar. A snack bar (such as a Powerbar or Clif Bar) works well. A sports gel like Gu is not a bad idea. There are also powders people can use to mix with water. They have protein and carbohydrates to help keep energy levels up. Be sure you’ve tried these items before the race. Pick up the March issue of Western Times to read Part II on preparing for a Ride & Tie. About Carol: My mom was competing in Ride & Tie long before I ever heard of endurance. She started in 1978, and I was perfectly happy to crew if I had to. I had no intention of doing it

myself, which is weird since I was a runner in high school and college, as well as a rider pretty much from birth. I helped teach my father to ride so he could do Ride & Tie with my mom, but I still wasn’t personally interested until my little sister said she wanted to partner with me in the 1980s. That never really took off because I was too lazy to get into running condition. My enthusiasm waned significantly when I got lost on the trail during a race, and my mom and my sister’s young son won. Fast forward to 1999 when it was clear my father needed a younger partner. I’ve had a fabulous time partnering with my father since 2000 for the Championship and have completed six Championships with him. I have also completed numerous local events while partnering with my husband and have won many prizes. I would probably have started in this sport a lot earlier if I had bothered to notice that my husband is such a great runner.

About Melanie: I started out doing endurance with my horse Kamanche. Then a few years ago, Carol Ruprecht kind of got me interested in Ride & Tie. At first, I was rather reluctant and didn’t have a lot of interest, truth be told. Carol and her husband Tom had the horse trailer. And next thing I knew, I had a partner, Rick Noer, who didn’t even know how to ride. Since then Rick and I’ve completed three World Championships with Kamanche. I’ve done perhaps 12 other races, mostly teamed with Rick and Kamanche. Rick and I don’t win, but we’ve steadily improved during our short careers. I’ve enjoyed this aspect of the sport a lot: working as a team to get better through improved running/riding, but also through fine tuning our strategy. I’ve only had one first place completion when I partnered with Carol’s husband, Tom. That was a short course race at Manzanita. I’ve been in two other races where my team did not finish.

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