Hog Scramble 1 & 2 April 28th & 29th

Central Region, can include participants from Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Distances for Saturday were 75 miles, 55 miles, 30 miles and an introductory 15 miles. Also a ‘ride & tie' competition, 15 miles and 30 miles, where teams of 3 (2 people and 1 horse) must cross the finish line at the same time.

Sunday distances were 55 miles, 30 miles and 15 miles.

There are, as in most sporting events, several measures that contribute to the success, or failure, of an event. The event in question is the “Hog Scramble' endurance ride, and endure we did. Riders, horses, management team, volunteers, veterinarians and venue hosts, all contributed, we think, successfully.

So what does make a successful endurance ride, in particular this one? No matter how well prepared every aspect of this type of event is, the make or brake, - oops, point is the weather.

Horses and people attempt to keep cool after the Hog Scramble.

People and horses attempt to keep cool after the Hog
Scramble.

It did not rain at or on the event, that's good news. It was hot, unusually so, and humid, that is not such good news. It did rain half an inch the Wednesday before the ride, not hugely significant, we thought………..

The venue was Seahorse Haven, Trailriding Heaven, a small jewel of a farm that abuts Sam Houston National Forest, about 70 miles north of Houston, and was picked for it's location and available facilities and ability to accommodate the estimated amount of trailers.

The Masses Arrive

The first inkling of success, or failure, was noted about 1:30 p.m. on Friday, when incoming friends of farm owners Fiona Crichton-Berner and Ulli Berner, were incredulous about how many rigs were already on the property.

Lots of trailers pulling into the farm for the Scramble.

As experienced competitors they were accustomed to pulling in early enough on a Friday to have their choice of camp space, not so that day. Did success, at that point, mean lots more rigs to come or, did it mean failure, not enough room?

The Trails

The trails were all in the forest, and, for most people, it is just a wonderful experience. At this time of year there is a mantle of dynamic greens in the forest canopy and the ground is covered with thick, pale green ferns that are simply a joy to behold. So the trails twisted and turned, went uphill and downhill in this incredible environment. Every effort was made to keep horses off the rocky roads, an integral part of the forest.

Ride manager Dawn Carrie fielded some complaints last year for too long stretches of trail on those same roads, a condition she was determined to avoid this year.

Part of the substitute was a huge gully that had several crossings in quick succession, definitely a challenge, but placed after a long straight stretch where horse and rider could cruise along at a good clip. The thought behind the placement was that it might serve to slow some riders down a bit before the next straight away.

Other stretches of trail went by wonderful ponds, over smaller ditch crossings and then there is the infamous ‘shredder trail', so dubbed because it is encased in tri-foliate orange trees, a very prickly affair.

Managing the Event

Management held themselves up to exacting standards, made good use of the farm's facilities and made sure the traffic flow was orderly. Perhaps rig parking was not so orderly, especially when you consider over 100 rigs all wanting prime parking.

It was a good-sized open pasture and in the end most everyone lined up in neat rows, leaving travel space in-between. However, rigs kept coming, and coming, and eventually a fence was taken down to accommodate more rigs. Wow, this looks like success, just the shear numbers!!

Ride secretary, Rae Callaway, was supremely efficient, no hitches or glitches. Well, she did run out of entry forms, people just kept coming.

Volunteers were wonderful, made great food, on time, and fed the mostly happy and tired masses. We think management and volunteers and vets were probably the most tired, it was a long hard weekend.

Tons of trailers at Seahorse Haven.

The Ride

Both Saturday and Sunday dawned clear, if a little foggy, and great hoards of horses and riders headed out helter-skelter, 30-40 at a time, to eventually sort themselves out on the trails.

Comments and feed back were varied, as is nearly always the case in such a wide range of knowledge and experience. From a 3-time national champion, to a first-time rider going 15 miles, and the current president of American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC), their input is valuable. But far and away the majority of comments would indicate a success.

When we found time to ask head veterinarian, Denise Easterling, her opinion, she really had to think about it for a while. There were a significant amount of ‘pulls', mostly hind end lameness, which was unusual. But, only one horse in approx. 240 starters, had to have metabolic treatment. Denise allowed that it was a very good ride.

Folks enjoy the location.

Had the big gullies taken their toll, had folks gone too fast, were some of the horses unused to the big ups and downs, or, is this simply the nature of endurance riding? Did some horse-rider teams simply get a bad ‘break', or, did they just not ‘brake'!!

The Results

One thing we know for sure, that little half-inch of rain on Wednesday was a contributing factor to the conditions at the bottom of the gullies, the other being the record amount of entries. In some parts of the trail after 200 plus horses have been through, the trails are beaten into submission. Conversely, some are churned into a muddy mess.

No injuries were reported, though we do know some folks parted company with their horses. No ambulances! No helicopters!

Perhaps the biggest success came at the very tail end of the competition. A family from Oklahoma who stayed over at the ride site until Monday morning, a Dad, Mom and 2 boys, 7 and 9 years, left their camp-site immaculate, according to farm owner Fiona. No mess, no hay and no manure. Thank you. That is success.

Ride statistics for Saturday;

15 miles………………………18 starters………………………17 finished

30 miles…………………… 70 starters………………………47 finished

55 miles……………………...51 starters………………………39 finished

75 miles……………………...14 starters ……………………… 8 finished

Sunday

15 miles………………………11 starters……………………...11 finished

30 miles………………………43 starters……………………...33 finished

55 miles………………………22 starters……………………...15 finished

Page Updated 09/2007

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