Tuesday, January 7, 2014

High Roller I Endurance Ride 1/4/14 (Part II)

Our night of debauchery behind us, O and I headed to the vetbox as soon as they opened up. I had gotten her to eat some hay pellet mush at around 4am, but she was too riled up in the morning to do more than flip her breakfast bucket over and spill her breakfast meal everywhere. She drank about 1/2 a bucket of water, which is pretty good for her! This will HAVE to improve in the future though.... the hotter it gets the more she just HAS to drink. Eventually I got tired of her freaking out (the 50s went out at 7am right in front of the trailer and this was SO MUCH for her brain) that I tied her up to the trailer for a few hours with a haybag so she'd quit running the fence. Last thing I needed was for her to go busting out and gallop off with the 50 milers!

I vetted in with a vet who thankfully was not the one who I stole the parking spot from, and later found out she and one of my clients are apparently besties and the client had been telling me all about her previously - small world! She sympathized with me about the oops-loose-horse-in-the-middle-of-the-night, and told me her own horse had gotten out a million times. (I *hope* my horse does not ever get out again but I'm sure it will happen! I saw like 12 loose horses... is that a thing at rides? There's always a loose horse at events but not THAT many!) O vetted in with all A's and one B+ for gut sounds, and off we went to saddle up. I continued trying to coax her to eat (EAT PLEASE EAT), and she did somewhat, but was more interested in watching all of the horses passing through the vet. Finally it was time to saddle up and head out!

They did a controlled start for us - we all followed some guy and his grey horse at a set speed until we reached the trail head, and then he let us roll on out. I started somewhere in the middle of all of the horses, and ended up passing most everybody within a mile or so. It wasn't long until I found myself in the company of two quick little Pasos and a lady with a big Arab/TB/Trakehner gelding (at least, I think that's what she said he was... he was a very nice looking mutt!). We kept partly in time with another lady on a PSYCHO Arab in front of us who kept blasting off ahead and then slamming on the brakes... he must have ended up being pulled because I never saw him again and he was ahead of us the entire time. The Pasos were in love with O and the younger girl spent most of her time riding along behind us with O's big red butt for motivation. I kept in time with the girl with the lovely mutt-horse for awhile, and may or may not have almost collided with her when the trail unexpectedly turned and I was not paying attention... oops. We spent most of the first 2 loops (purple to blue) chatting with each other, moving forward and falling back and generally keeping company with all the rest of the front runners, right where O wanted to be. She really has discovered the joy of cantering, and cantering is really all she'd like to do. This suits me well as it is SO comfortable to get up in half seat and just roll along with her smoothly - no bouncy posting. Bonus, she does clean changes back and forth from each lead of her own accord whenever we are turning or changing balance, how great is that! I can bump her from one lead to the next with a change of balance but as for a cue we don't have that yet. Our leg cues for canter still involve a head raise, an ugly face, and a surge forward... yeck. On the other hand, if you are out on the trail walking and you cluck quietly once at her, she's off trotting... if you cluck (or kiss) at her again, she's cantering. This really annoys the dressage person in me, but as for working on the trail, it's pretty darn convenient.

We rolled comfortably along for the first loop, and I was surprised when only a little more than an hour had passed and we were already back in camp. O had wasted a lot of energy getting charge-y on the first loop, and while she drank a few sips of water at the trough on the way in, she really didn't get too much in. She had also eaten less than I had hoped she would. We pulsed in immediately, vetted out with A's and several B's including a B- for gut sounds!! Not cool. Our hold was 45 minutes and I spent literally every second that I could trying to coax her to eat more. She wouldn't eat hay or mash, so I took her out and grazed her, and she perked up quite a bit with that. She wasn't getting her elytes in (that I had put in the mash, thinking she'd eat it), and I couldn't bring myself to dose her when she wasn't eating well. Of course, every second that a horse isn't gobbling food I start panicking and going OH MY GOD SHE HAS ULCERS. (I don't *actually* think she does, I think she was just amped up... but still.) Being the kind of horse that she is, I know I'll need to keep an eye on it, but I already manage this aspect of her life VERY VERY closely anyway so I think I am just hypersensitive about it.

Looking good at the hold. 

Once she had grazed, and had tanked up again at the water trough (thank god), I tacked her back up and out we went again. I was a few minutes slow getting it together after our hold, but headed out with a brisk horse who was ready for more action. (This is great - I've never unsaddled her and then resaddled and gotten back on, so she was more than happy to go "uhm ok? Sure, I think we just did this but I am up for some more.") We headed out with a group of 50 milers who were lagging behind a bit (remember, they started at 7am and it was now close to 11 and they were just heading out for their second loop), all of which were very friendly and helpful and giving out unsolicited advice (some of it was nice, some of it was more like "god damn it don't ever pass anyone ever unless you know them," which I think was a bit silly.) I left all the 50 milers behind for awhile until we came to a group of cows that were laying down. O has this really fun spook at her where she goes from trotting or cantering to teleporting sideways and backwards at the same time in one movement, and we were in the process of thrashing around in a blind panic because oh my god I've clearly never seen cows before, mom these are DEMON COWS, they are going to eat us alive! when the 50 milers caught back up and took us through the group of them. (Remember, O sees cows every day...)

Eventually, we caught up to a nice cowboy man and his young horse who was struggling to keep going. We matched up together, and being with another horse motivated his colt to keep moving on down the trail. (He said he thought he might have to walk back home because he had nothing left in his horse! Strangely enough, he ended up winning BC!) The cowboy man and I went on and trotted/cantered along to the finish, paying attention to the deep sandy spots (tons of them) and the mudholes (even MORE of those). I even convinced her to drink ON THE TRAIL! First time she has done that literally EVER. Near the 22 mile mark, there was  big stock pond, and I decided to stop and wade in - she tanked up! I came cantering home across the finish line with a fresh horse who was still pulling on me. She never went along on a loose rein and I never asked her to go more forward than she already was once... she just cruised along and made easy work of it all. She drank even more at the trough at the finish, and I led her to the vet feeling a bit like I was made of jelly. I finished fine, but Funder had hammered on me to eat and drink and I hadn't done a very good job of it. It's hard when you finish your loops in an hour and change, and you have a zoomy headstrong horse! The photographer probably has some great pictures of me fist pumping and then giving the devil horns, just for Funder (because she helped listen to my inane babble and questions for hours and hours and hours before and after the race!)

O pulsed in right away and was perky for the vet. All of her vet scores got raised, all A's and one B+ for gut sounds! I was so excited about that, and about the fact that I had gotten her to drink! I unsaddled, threw a cooler on her, put her in her pen, and she got straight to eating her hay. She kept her muscles loose by doing a small walking circle every few minutes or so, then went back to munching. I collapsed in the front seat of my truck and watched her for a few minutes while I chugged some Gatorade and ate a Powerbar.

Looking fresh! Shortly after this she started trotting around... TROTTING AROUND.

I am still waiting on official times, but we finished 6th!!!!!!!!!!!!! A top ten for our FIRST ride ever!!!!

(One of TERA's members made a funny little video and we're in it, by the way - check it out!)

We went and stood for BC after an hour, and did quite well all things considered. I knew we weren't going to get it, but the vet was very complimentary and gave us a slew of 10s for things. We also got several 7s as her elytes were off (which I knew they had to be), and this changed some things with her gums and made her muscles a bit stiff in the back end. She was perfectly sound, just didn't really enjoy being poked by the vet. I will have to make sure this gets addressed, along with gastric support, for the next ride.

Sunday she was tired but not *that* tired, and I stuck her on the lunge to let her loosen up. She gave me kind of an ugly 'don't wanna' face, but did it anyway, and once she got to moving she loosened up and felt better. This mare wears her heart on her sleeve everywhere she goes, so I will always know if something isn't quite right. She is not going to push through her pain if she hurts, she is going to yell and scream at me about it to make sure I get the message. She has SUCH a red mare attitude. Her legs look great, she is eating well, and she is perky. Yesterday she was even brighter and perkier. (S said last night, "O's a much nicer horse when she's tired".... yes, yes she is.)

As for me, I am finally not feeling like I got run over by a bus. We need more conditioning, feeding, hydrating and elyting for the next one for sure!


  1. Congratulations! I have a lot of respect for anyone who can complete an endurance/CT ride with a sound and happy horse at the end. Denny Emerson's always harping on eventers to get into endurance because of what it teaches you about conditioning, there's something to that. Go O!

  2. Congratulations you two! O reminds me a lot of my friend Mary's horse, Shiloh. Big and red and CANNOT BE DENIED. Mary competed successfully on him for over a decade from LDs to 100s. He's a happy 20-something horse now, eager to do the occasional LD where he still surges to the front. What is it with these big red monsters? ;-) I kinda want a red horse now that I've been witness to so many awesome red horses of late.

  3. Awesome!! I bet she'll settle in a little more as she learns the routine. I mean, still the zoomy O-ren we all love, but maybe drinking/eating more regularly.

  4. Fantastic first go of things! Endurance is very interesting to me.

  5. Great job! The first one is the hardest (not that I've done that many, but still) with such a learning curve. To finish with a sound, happy horse who isn't burned out is perfect!

    As for the horses getting loose in camp: yes, that has been the case at the rides I go to as well, almost all in corrals. Including horses who drag their corral all over camp, through other sites, it's scary. Which is why I use a high-tie so he is hard-tied to the trailer. Of course he also broke out one time when a loose horse came over and freaked him out, Horses, sigh…

  6. Yessss devil horns ride pics shall be my legacy! \m/

    Yall did great! O's ulcers may very well have been bothering her, but your description also sounds exactly like "too amped up to eat." Ridecamp is SO EXCITING! I think it's like Disneyworld for horses or something.

    What a lovely campsite. I'd have snagged it too, lol.

  7. Congratulations! That's a pretty awesome first ride for both of you. I sense 50s in your future!

    Fetti wasn't great about drinking for her first LD. By the second, she had gotten the idea and informed me that there was a tiny water fountain and she wanted it now, please and thank you. I imagine with more practic O will get the idea, too.

  8. Getting the electrolytes is SO important in endurance, especially if you get out of LD's and into the bigger distances. It can be a challenge to find what works best for your horse, but you'll be amazed at the difference once you do. Congrats on your first LD.

  9. I know literally *nothing* about endurance, but it sounds like a hugely successful (and fun!) outing. What a good mare :)

  10. Congratulations! It sounds like a very successful event and experience.

  11. Sounds like you had a great time! What a learning experience - I certainly wouldn't have a clue as to what I was doing.

    I enjoyed the video, and was pleased to see almost everyone had on a helmet. Were they required, or are endurance participants just smart? ;)

  12. Yay!!! What a fabulous first LD ride - and a top 10 finish!! O will settle down with a few more endurance outings. Maybe tuck the e-lytes in a cookie?

  13. Congrats, what a great first ride!

  14. Congratulations on an awesome first ride! Great, great job!!

    Regarding the electrolytes: what about syringing them? I'm a noob at this sport, which I'm currently avidly reading about and conditioning for, but it seems like most people recommend and do syringe electrolytes to their endurance horses, AFTER they have eaten. The general recommendation of syringing vs feeding them is because mixing them into the food runs the risk of the horse not getting them if they are too amped to eat, or not eating because they can taste the electrolytes.

  15. Well done on your first one! :) Good work!

    Good on you for learning so much from it. So pleased that she is already feeling so much better with her tummy, but it is such a common thing for ride base to be the most exciting thing. It seems with endurance, until you do it (or step up in distance), you don't know what will happen. Now you know what you need to work on, you'll be able to practise aspects whilst out of the ride-day environment, so they become more like habits.

    It can be hard to eat at a ride - make sure to pack things you love to eat and that are easy to eat. Rides are so much more enjoyable when you don't feel sore/ tired/ dehydrated afterwards!

    Hope it's the first of many enjoyable rides! :)

  16. Congrats on an awesome first LD!! You two did great!! I don't think I would have been able to do it after so little sleep... wow. :)