I've been delaying this post for a couple of reasons: 1) I'm not sure that it doesn't bore the crap out of everyone to read and 2) mostly everything worked.
In the end it is nice to have a list for myself to refer back to, so here it goes. In general I keep my life to the KISS principal which translates in my horse life to going with things that provide a benefit and leaving all extraneous crap behind.
THINGS THAT WORKED:
~ All her regular tack worked fantastically: advantage saddle with amidale stirrups, Thinline full sheepskin endurance saddle pad, red mohair cinch, Toklat fleece breast collar. She had all As n back score the entire time and no rubs or swelling to be seen. A week out and she didn't have any flaking skin to tattle tale on rubbing.
~ NGs on front, steel on back. I wish they made the NGs in a rear profile, but they don't. These worked amazing no matter the footing: pavement, gravel, pine needles, rocks, clay, grass. She never slipped and the mile upon miles upon miles of gravel didn't make her hesitate a single step. Gem has always preferred rock hard surfaces to softer ones (I am thinking this is due to an old left hip injury) and happily trotted and cantered choosing the gravel roads over the grassy shoulder every time. I have yet to encounter deep mud or water crossings in the NGs, so the jury is still out on that type of footing.
~ Body Glide. She was lathered it in at every single hold. It went between her armpits and along the front edge of her girth.
~ My usual suspects also worked well: Irideon Issentials tights, running shoes, Just Chaps half chaps, Tipperary helmet which I have come to adore.
~ Camelbak: I am counting this as worked solely because I love my pack and it was a fluke to get a hole in the bladder. It holds my phone and ride card as well as carrots for Gem, her bit and still has a large back pocket to hold numerous things. I drink well from it when I remember to use it and I can't imagine long distance riding without having it.
~ New for this ride was a cell phone case that I wore around my lower leg by my knee. This 50% worked because while it did safely hold my phone when I switched to Liz's hydration pack that lacked an accessible side pocket, it was a bit of a PIA to get it in and out of the holder while on the move. In the dark I was fearful of dropping my phone as I tried to get it in the case.
~ Beginning Wednesday before the ride (so 3 total days) she got a scoop of Grand Vite total vitamin and mineral supplement in her feed once a day which is half the recommended daily dose when in hard work. She already gets a complete feed at the recommended daily volume, so I didn't want to overdose her on anything. Half dosing seemed to work well.
~ Also beginning three days out she got a dry mixture of regular table salt and lite salt at a 1:1 ratio, 1 ounce once daily. Again, the recommendation is for 2 ounces a day, but I felt better cutting it in half. I will say that she drank more pre ride in camp than I have ever seen her before and I was really, really pleased.
~ I continued her normal ration of Triple Crown Complete leading up to the ride. I adore this feed.
~ On ride morning she got fed at 3 am because that was when I was awake. Had I gotten up at 5 am, she would have been fed then. I don't get up in the middle of the night to feed.
~ Throughout the ride she was offered her regular ration of Triple Crown complete made into a mash at all holds. She does get picky about how moist it is on ride day and it was too wet the first time, so she ignored it. I think one other time it had dried out in the heat before we got to it (a reason I don't pre mix anything in advance. Mare won't eat it if it is not fresh during a ride) and she ignored that too, but otherwise she ate as she pleased. I don't get too upset if she only eats half her grain during the ride because she gets offered a ton of it. As long as she is eating grass and hay, I'm happy.
~ Speaking of hay, she had timothy available dry the entire weekend but seemed to not really like it much. She also had a bale of soaked alfalfa. I doled it out in small flakes throughout the days leading up to the ride and then she had free choice during. I don't mind her eating her fill of alfalfa during the ride. It provides a good source of calcium and protein and she has never had an issue with it. I know some people limit it, but for her I think it is super helpful to have the added calcium and protein to prevent cramping and things like thumps.
~ I love Perfect balance electrolyte paste during rides. Since Gem doesn't always finish her mash, I worry too much about adding it to her feed. She may not get enough of it if she walks away from her mash and again I don't care how much grain she consumes during a ride. She was given a single dose the morning of and at every hold except for the 3rd one where she was given 2 doses going into the hottest part of the ride. She had great hydration scores all day.
~Carrots. These are Gem's all time favorite treat, but Liz suggested I shove them in my pack and ride with them. It didn't take long for Gem to learn to bend to take them from me in the saddle and I think it played a major role in her great gut sounds throughout the second half of the ride.
~ I think I ate better at this ride than any before it. Fruit was a blessing and the watermelon and mandarin oranges (the ones in the little cups filled with syrup) hit the spot when I was both over heated and running out of energy.
~ Bacon was amazing. Simply amazing.
~ I always pack hard cheese and hard pepperoni (the real stuff, not the fake pizza slice type). Easy to eat, adds salt and protein.
~ Peanut M&Ms played a role somewhere along the way.
~ I drank a lot of water during the loops which settled my stomach when I was getting nauseous and cold sweet tea helped in the holds.
THINGS THAT DIDN'T WORK: Going to lump them all together since there weren't many.
~ The side pull was useless when I tried to use it at the start of the second loop. I never dropped the bit again, but I believe she would have been fine from the 3rd loop on. She doesn't eat or drink any differently with the bit in or out, so it really makes no difference. I like the thought of going bitless if possible and will try again on later loops in the future.
~ Glow sticks. I got the cheap dollar store ones and they were worthless. Seriously, they provided maybe a spot of light directly under her neck but it wasn't enough to see by or be useful. The two I rode with in the dark didn't even use them. I like the idea of them in case Gem and I get separated. She will at least be lit up and easier to spot, but they aren't helpful when riding at all.
~ My camelbak bladder which decided to get not one but two holes in it and leak after the second loop. Not fun.
~ Wearing way too many clothes when it got hot out. I seriously overheated and should have listened to Liz when I went out for the 3rd loop and she told me to ditch some clothing.
That should cover it. All in all there really isn't much I would change from the ride. More appropriate human attire, add a second bladder in case of failures (I had meant to do this but ran out of both time and money before the ride), and not lose my head lamp on the first loop. Other than that we both came through feeling great and I recovered in record time after a long ride.