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Horses Name: DR Thunder Bask +// "Doc" 15,035 Miles, 270 ride completions.
First AERC ride: 1988 Region: PS
Tell us about your horse. When/how did you come to get him/her? In the spring of '87, Jeff and I, for lack of anything better to do, went to an all-breed sale in Bakersfield, supposedly to meet with a friend - who never showed up. Late in the sale a man walked by leading what was obviously an Arabian (and a stallion to BOOT). I was impressed with the horse's quiet and gentle demeanor. Feeling that an Arab stud wouldn't solicit much of a price in this heart of quarter/paint horse country, I asked his owner, Dave Rasmussen, about the horse's bloodline and how much he wanted for him. Then I pulled Jeff aside to discuss offering him his price less what the commission would be if the horse sold in the ring for that amount. We made the offer and advised Mr. Rasmussen that we would pay the 'pass out fee', too. He went into the sale ring, watched what the horses were going for, and then came back and accepted our offer. Thus it was that at a place we had never even intended to be, we paid $940.00 for a 3-coming-4 year old Arab stud that I had never even watched 'trot out'.
What is your horses breeding? Bask grandson -- 3/4 Polish & 1/4 old Egyptian/Crabbet on the top -- 50/50 Babson Egyptian & Crabbet on the bottom
Why did you decide to purchase this horse (or if you didn't purchase, why did you choose to use this horse in endurance)? Liked the horse and his pedigree - bought him for an Endurance Horse but figured if he didn't make it, I could always sell him for more than I paid for him.
How many different horses have you ridden in this sport? My first was an AQHA mare that I ran barrels on. I did 3 50's with her (almost won the 3rd), and bought a 4 yr old unbroken Arabian stallion, Grey Image, that I did over 1300 miles with before losing him in an accident. I then rode several more (5 or 6) horses for the next 7 years, including a gelded son of Grey Image, who I was riding at the time we purchased Doc.
Do you participate in any other horse sports or activities? Breed Arabians
How many years have you been involved with horses? since 1955. In endurance? since 1976.
What got you interested in endurance riding? Burned out horse show person - got involved in pony express racing, but wasn't happy with the team concept - especially when they failed to properly condition their horses. When a gentleman by the name of Torg Wold, eyeing my Quarter mare, told me 'that horse should be doing endurance' I decided to check it out. Roxanne Greene and I had the same mentor - Clint Ritchie! - and both of us did, at his suggestion the MALIBU 50 as our first ride. Of course, Clint didn't ride - he didn't have a horse that could do it! If it hadn't been for Bob Bellamak seeing me thru, I'd STILL be out there. But I was hooked - it was just you and what you could do with your horse. And, of course, I RACED - everyone did in those days.
What was it that kept you interested? You can compete on so many different levels, and, of course, just riding that far over every imaginable type of terrain, thru all extremes of weather presents a new and different challenge each and every time you head out.
How old was your horse when first started? 5.
First ride? LittleRock Lyons.
How many rides did you do the first, 10 - 9 50's including Cold Springs to Schellbourne 5-- day XP & 1 100 (Tevis-Laurie rode) second 25 50's & 3 100's (Tevis and Devil Dog - Laurie rode, and third ride seasons? 29 50's & 5 100's including Tevis & Virginia City (Laurie - who also did several of the 50's)
What mileage distance did you start with? Never did an LD with him till 2000 - just for fun.
How long till you top tenned or 'raced'? We first asked Doc to race at the Bill Thornburg 50 - an IAHA Regional Championship ride (we wanted the 'points') May '89 and again at the Devil Dog 100 IAHA National Championship in June that year. He was just 6 but had over 1200 miles of 'base' by that time.
How much time off do you give between ride seasons? From 5/88 thru 10/99 the only time between 'seasons' was from the Silver State, Thanksgiving weekend till then 20 Mule team in mid February. With the multitude of rides now available now, there isn't really any 'ride season' - just the end of one year and the start of a new one.
If you have done 100's, how much time off do you give after doing one? What is your schedule in the month leading up to the ride? If the horse comes out of the ride OK, I wouldn't necessarily give any 'time off' other than just the time between the next-scheduled ride. I haven't seen any adverse consequences with Doc in doing even back-to-back 100's but I wouldn't make a practice of it. I don't follow any particular schedule but would make sure we had done at least one 50 within the past month.
If you have done multidays, how much time off do you give after doing one? What is your schedule in the month leading up to the ride? - same as previous question, except I wouldn't do a back to back multi-day.
What kind of tack do you use? Used a WW I German Calvary Saddle until '97 when Faramir won me a Boz. Liked the Boz so well, I bought another one - Laurie had commandeered the one Far won - for me to use. Boz says you can do without, but I use a double-thick woolback pad. Doc takes the regular Boz fuzzy girth - Far prefers a neoprene cover. I put all my horses in a Macpherson Hackamore bit as soon as I can. Lots of WHOA but they're free to eat along the way. I have over 1500 miles on Boz's new Bareback rig and love it but do not recommend it if you are going to be doing a lot (read 7 or 8 hours) of walking as your weight would then become too centered. For an average 50, with a lot of trotting - it's the only way to go.
What kind of shoes do you use on your horse? St. Croix plains. Doc was padded at my vet's recommendation from 8000 miles till about 13000. At that point I knew I wouldn't be riding him fast over rough ground, and not putting on so many miles; so I didn't think we needed the pads anymore. For Doc's last 300 miles, and on the last day at the Grand Canyon in '01, I used Easyboots over the shoes in front to lesson the concussion and negate the small sharp rocks at Bryce and the Grand Canyon XPs. Prior to that, never used them.
What kind of problems have you encountered? Occasional minor lameness accounting for 5 of his 8 pulls (the others were rider options). X-rays taken after a pull in '93 showed some remodeling of the long pastern bone-RF possible from an earlier undetected stress fracture. We laid him up for 5 months and all was fine. A nick mid-cannon at the back of the LR tendon in '97 - have no idea how he did that - vet thought he might have whacked himself against the pipe corral while rolling. Within 4 months the ultra sound was good and we went back to riding. In 'Oct 98 he came up about a grade 1 lame and x-rays showed a hairline fracture at the back of the RF sesamoid. The concern was, at his age that it might not heal completely so we gave him most of '99 off. Then Laurie had her accident, and he would up getting all of 99 off.
What was the worst or most severe injury your horse has had? I guess the sesamoid injury, although the tumor he had was surely the scariest time I ever had.
How did you work thru it? Magnets and time off and room to roam. Nature will oftentimes heal itself if you are just willing to wait.
Describe the best ride you ever had on your horse? That's hard to do because I've been so blessed with this horse. The time at the Mt Charleston 50/50 where Doc and I paced Laurie and Far to a win on the 2d day of their 2-day 100 was fun -and won the 50 & took BC as a result-, although I don't usually like to ride that fast. I think really one of the best time I had was pulling ribbons for the Duck (he had a broken ankle and had taped a T-square to an oversize motorcycle boot to stabilize it) on the 4/89 Joe's Dugout to Shelbourne XP. Needless to say, we never got lost. I was having so much fun that when we got to Shellbourne, I told the Duck it would be great to just be able to keep going the next day on to the Ruby Marshes. He said I was crazy to want to ride that far (and look what he did summer of 2001).
Describe the worst day you ever had with your horse? Other than the day the vet, and the next vet, and the next said "it sure looks like a melanoma to me" , it had to be the day Doc had his surgery for the tumor at the back of his scrotum. . He knew that visit was different from the previous ones where he'd had just cryo-curgery treatments. Even the vets remarked at his expression saying "You don't need to be so worried, Doc" and then to see him hoisted off the ground upside down - it's an experience I never want to go through again. A blessing from the LORD - the tumor turned out to be a benign fibroma. We've had some grumpy times on rides, and once on a point-to-point XP where I knew he was having a tie-up problem but there was nowhere to go but forward - he was comfortable walking - so we did and all was OK when we got to Shellbourne. But nothing comes close to the fear I felt when he was being operated on.
What was your most humbling experience? I think that just the fact that Doc has NEVER let us down, regardless of the sometimes ridiculous things we asked (expected) him to do. That the LORD, for some reason, gave him to us is a pretty hard one to figure. And the longer we have him, the scarier the responsibility is.
What lessons have you learned along the way that you feel are the most important? Speed kills. Horses are either born to do Endurance or they're not - and the ones that can do it, do it easily right from the start. Most importantly ..GOD is in CHARGE and what might seem really important today can be really insignificant tomorrow.
Where does your horse live? For the last several years, Doc has had approximately 5 acres with a good slope back to front. Prior to that he had a pipe corral about 72' x 48' - he could scoot around in it pretty good when so inclined (which wasn't very often).
What kind of environment did your horse spend the first few years of it's life in? He spent his first 3 years in Canada. Because he is smart about fences - when he sees posts, he always hesitates-looking for wire - I tend to think he was turned out but I don't know for sure. I do know he got out and bred 2 mares as a long yearling.
What are your horse's strengths? Weaknesses? Metabolically this horse is super. He has a resting pulse of 20 bpm and, other that the mild tie-up I mentioned, has never had a metabolic problem on a ride. He has what I call a big engine - fast recoveries and SO STRONG. Faramir, who is a very good horse in his own right, on a good day wouldn't hold a candle to Doc on a bad one. He also has to have a pain threshold that is off the chart. My vet couldn't believe that he was only slightly lame with the x-rays showing a hairline fracture of the sesamoid. He is also very courageous and tough-minded - just wants to 'get it done'. I remember once when Laurie was racing on the 20 Mule Team 100 - might have been 1998 when they ran 3rd. Coming into the 55-mile point, a companion's horse shied into Doc, almost knocking him over. When they had righted themselves, Laurie asked for a trot and he was dead lame -RF. An examination showed the mare had come down on the outside of his right coronary band. He pretty much walked out of it by the time they got to the vet check. Laurie told the Duck what had happened, and he thought Doc 'didn't look too good' but let her continue the 5 miles to the next vet at camp. When she came into camp, Laurie was leading in - almost in tears. She said "I think I've wrecked your horse". Doc had tripped over a bump in the road, sending them both sprawling. I checked the banged spot on his left knee and noticed that it was just the hair peeled off, not joint tissue showing as Laurie had feared. His nose was skinned up a bit, too, but he looked sound. I said let's get him to Steve (Dr. Bond) to get him checked before he stiffens up. We told Steve (who was our vet at home, too) about the RF coronet, and now the LF knee. He just said 'let's see him trot' and Doc trotted out fine. Finished fine, too - sound and with a 13 pulse. Steve came by the next morning to see him, and couldn't believe that he still trotted out sound. Said "that horse is just tough."
I think his only weaknesses (other than being pretty lazy if he's bored or knows you're not racing) would be the same things that make him strong. Its hard with a horse like that not to take advantage, and I pray that we haven't and don't..
What advice do you have for new riders? Take it easy. Speed kills. I recommend having at least 500 slow miles of 50's or longer on your horse before you even think about a Top 10 - and then ride that day as it unfolds with no set priorities- your first goal must always be to finish with a happy, healthy horse. Think about the next ride you want to do, and the next years, as you do the one you're on. TEACH YOUR HORSE TO TAIL. You have to be safe somewhere, and on the grounds as good a place as any. My horses have all known how to go in front of me and obey voice commands before I ever got on their backs.
Ride a lot by yourself, not only to avoid 'training rides' with others that all too often become little races, but also to really get to know your horse. Depend upon each other. Books are good, but too many want to teach you just how to win. I think there's way too much emphasis on supplements and electrolytes, and mechanical gadgets. Heart monitors are a good tool when conditioning (and necessary if you're going to race at an 'elite level') but a lot can be said for just 'listening to your horse'.
Looking back, what would you do differently? I can't say there would be much anything. We've been so blessed with this horse. One thing does come to mind, though: If I'd just had the presence of mind, I would have liked to thank The LORD, and all the people, Julie Suhr for her encouragement, Laurie for her dedication to Doc, and Dave Nicholson for all those XP's, to name just a few, at Doc's Hall of Fame presentation (instead of just crying like I did).
What do you feel you did right? I think the only thing we did right was not to race Doc as hard as he would have been capable of going- which is pretty hard. I thank the LORD that my priority was always mileage - although we did get the racing bug every now and then.
What was your highest goal for your horse? At first it was just winning the Jim Jones Stallion Award, and then 2, and then 3,4, and 5 times. We wanted 6 but wouldn't get into 'trailer races' , and so it never came. Around 10,000 miles we thought about ' AERC Hall of Fame'. The last goal was 15k. Did you achieve it? Hall of Fame 1998 & 15k 10/15/03.
Describe your horses personality? How is it like or unlike yours? He's very kind and gentle but likes to play mind games and jerks everyone's chain whenever he can. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body but does like to buck especially if there's an audience. He knows just how to handle each of us but is rock solid when you need him. I wish I could be as forgiving and kind (and athletic) as he is. He has taught me so much patience, and so many lessons about the kind of person I ought to be. It might be obvious by now that while I use him as, and expect him to be, a horse, I really see him as something a lot more.
What kinds of rides do you enjoy the most? Multidays by far. 50's that go somewhere besides just around in little circles back to camp are OK. Like 75's and 80's. 100's are just TOO darn long.
Describe your electrolyte protocol. Its not much anymore. If it's going to be really hot, or I'm riding fast where the horse will be sweating buckets, then I would use 1/2 dose of Kerry Ridgeway's formula (2pts lite salt, 2 pts regular salt, 1 part dolomite) offered free choice in a mash, the nite before, the morning of, midway thru, and at the end of the ride. I tend to agree with the Duck when I asked him what he thought about electrolytes and he said 'not much'. Again, I know they have benefit and are necessary racing on the 'elite level', but I have absolutely no interest in going there.
Is there anything special about your nutrition program you attribute to your success? Personally I feel about supplements, the way I do about electrolytes and so far its worked for every horse I've ridden. I feed the best quality grain mix - prefer about 10-20% alfalfa to barley hay - I can find. And all they will eat. Free choice range salt block and that's it. I do grain while a horse is at a ride, but it's a small amount - about 1 1/2# rolled barley, soaked so it measures to twice that much..
Are there any major changes you've made to your nutrition program (i.e., changed from one hay to another, added something special) that you feel made a noticeable improvement or solved a problem? With Doc, I have found that I need to be careful with alfalfa. He was wanting to urinate frequently, in small amounts when I had him on alfalfa, or 1/2 & 1/2. I think the protein waste was concentrating in his urine, causing some irritation, making him think he 'had to go'. I'm no vet, but it has not been a problem since I cut way back on the alfalfa. Beginning in May, 2001, when we thought Doc had the melanoma, I put him on a high antioxidant supplement Accel lifetime with gluta-syn. With his age, I have kept him on it, but at half the recommended dosage. Also because he has got to have some wear and tear, he gets a 500/500-glucosamine chrondroitin (1/2 dose) in a pound of Omolene 100 (so the stuff will have something to stick to) every other day. I haven't really noticed any difference, but it makes me feel better.
What kind of supplements (if any) do you use? Just what I mention above. I think a lot of people's horses have very 'expensive urine', and Arabian's, especially don't need a lot of extras - there's even the potential for harm.
Do you give any kind of joint products? The brand I use is Super Flex and it contains only glucosamine & chrondroitin. I have seen some really adverse metabolic situations with friend's horses using Msm & some of the other stuff out there. Doc has also had a couple of courses of Legend and Adequan throughout his career, and I am not opposed to giving Adequan a couple of days before a ride but have not made a habit of it. Didn't use any of it until the mid to late 90's and Doc already had over 10,000 miles by then.
How far do you usually travel to rides? I'm spoiled. I can do over 500 miles by mid-year without driving more than 250 miles in any direction. Generally, unless I was really going for mileage, I won't drive more than 6 hours for a 50, or 12 hours for a 100 or multi-day.
Do you go to many rides outside of your region? So far its just been XP's or a special 100. PS covers a lot of territory, and it was even bigger before it split from the SW.
Name three people involved in the sport of endurance that you look up to, and why? Actually there are 4 --In no order of significance: Courtney Hart because I think he's forgotten more than most people in Endurance will ever know. He's a fierce competitor, but a fair one. Julie Suhr - always was and will be the FIRST LADY of Endurance. Suzie Kelley a racer's racer but NEVER at the expense of her horse. Does her 'homework' better than anyone I have ever seen. She is simply the best I know of . AND she is still feeding (other than the ones who have died of old age) every horse that she ever raced. Dave Nicholson he's another one that I think has forgot more than most of us will ever know, and his approach to endurance riding is like a breath of fresh wind (take that however you want to).
Did you have a mentor or first trail partner? I would have to say Bob Bellamak saved my hide on my first ride, as previously mentioned, but other than Roxanne and Ernie Greene who got started in endurance the same time I did, I mostly learned by doing. By then I had my first Arab, and I (over)trained by myself most of the time. The vets didn't know too much in those days, and we thought 17-18 pulse was safe criteria to run with. I think my horses must have all had angels on their shoulders. But when I sort of lost the racing bug and slowed down, I think I learned a lot.
In choosing your next horse, what would you look for? ANOTHER DOC (not likely) Actually I think I have something as close as I can get - a 2 year old Doc colt out of Faramir's full sister. We'll; see. That's one of the nice parts about riding a stud.
But if I had to shop, I'd look for balance. Straight legs with a lot of bone and big feet are a must. A heavier-built horse, rather than a lean one- substance is good, especially for longer distances and multi-days . Not too big 14-2 to 15-1. I think a good little horse will beat a good big one more often than not - Look at Rio. Equal to conformation is a good temperament, and I actually prefer one that's a little lazy - one that will take care of himself. And smart. Breeding counts, I think. All the outward pieces can be there & you still don't have a horse that can or will do it. I think bloodline is your only clue to that intangible something that makes a good endurance horse.
Add any additional comments or stories that you can think of: Just this: It was the LORD, who brought Doc and us together, and Doc, with his awesome GOD-given abilities who did it all. I was just 'along for the ride' and for that I'm eternally grateful.
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