Stroh competes at Fort Rob
FORT ROBINSON, Neb. - Horsewomen and men find it is a joy to ride at Fort Robinson. To ride in an endurance ride there is extra special. September 23 and 24 marked the first endurance ride ever at the Fort. Mary McCoy, who has never ridden endurance, decided it was the perfect place to host a ride. She has done competitive trail riding and her husband, Gary, has ridden endurance, so they weren’t jumping into hosting this without knowing what they were getting in to.
They counted themselves lucky to get so much help from friends across Nebraska and Wyoming. Stroh rode the trail with them a few times before they decided on the exact loops the riders would take for the 25 and 50 mile endurance ride. Even though she had ridden Fort Robinson for years Stroh was still delighted to find places she had never been.
On September 22, Barb Orr and Stroh drove to Fort Robinson to set up camp and get Stroh’s horse, Rabbit, settled in. Riders were able to use the covered stalls at the mare barn. Participants were all grateful as the rain and hail came in Friday night. Mary and Gary hosted a dinner Friday night for the riders and their crew. At that time riders were told about the trail. The group was told and warned that the first 10 mile loop was steep and extremely rugged and not to bunch up or take it too fast.
The 25 mile race started at 7:30 a.m. with the 50 milers starting at 7. Rabbit and Stroh were entered in the 25 mile. The first 10 mile loop went well, though the steep grades were a challenge. Even with the warning the night before, there were riders who pushed it a bit too hard and fast and had their horses fall with them. Luckily nobody was hurt.
The vet check for Rabbit after the first loop went well and she pulsed down quickly so Stroh felt the conditioning was successful for the terrain.
After an hour’s hold horse and rider took off at 10:30 a.m. on the second loop of the 25 . It was 15 miles of pretty fast going. Still, there were ravines to go down and climb out of, making it a challenge. Again, Rabbit was in good shape for it and charged up the hills like a freight train. Stroh described it as, “I grabbed mane and held on!”
The team arrived back at camp about 12:45 p.m. Seeing the trailers back at camp is always the best part of the ride. As Stroh trotted Rabbit in hand for the final vet check upon arrive, the vet was amazed. She had taken Rabbit's pulse before the pair trotted out. After the trot out, Rabbit’s pulse was lower than before. The vet said that was exactly what they look for in a fit horse. Stroh laughingly told the vet not to take her pulse. Stroh was pleased with Rabbit and the level of fitness. She was careful not to push Rabbit too fast on the trail because it was so rugged. The team ended up 19 out of over 30 entries. She was pleased with that because they walked away fit to continue if they needed to.
The whole idea is to bring out the best in the horse and finish with a happy healthy horse. According to Stroh, “The finish line is for the ego and the journey is for the soul. This ride was a blessing for both of us.”