Monday, December 10, 2018


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Monday, November 12, 2018

Gobble Gobble

Given that Sully showed me he is physically ready for an LD after the FV intro, I decided to throw us into the LD at Gobble 🐎
There is no way to practice his vetting in skills and leaving camp skills (issues #1 & 2) other than to be there doing it, so we go! (armed with some extra tools to help if neeed)  The downhill stuff (issue #3) will also come with practice, but I bet he will remember a lot of what he learned at Fort Valley too as he has already done better going down on home trails.

Since his return from FV we worked on some going out alone and then we rode with a completely new horse/rider combo the weekend before at Preddy Creek.  I have been able to confirm he has no physical reason for being so 'kicky' with those hinds, so it is a behavioral thing I will work to fix.

Preddy Creek, ready to go out

fall colors
He gave me minimal trouble leaving to go out (though we ended up following instead of leading), and we worked through every time he objected to a request with those hind kicking/stomping/tail swishing without too much trouble.  We were the first 2 rider pairs out there, only to run across many more horses later in the morning! We ended up counting that there were 20+ horses on trail that day enjoying a great park and wonderful fall weather.

Right before Halloween his left hind Scoot Skin came off on its own so I pulled the right hind to keep him even. Lots of glue left on the hooves, so better boot prep needed for next time as it should have stuck to the boot too.  Gobble is much more barefoot/boot friendly ride, so we went into that one with Scoot Boots and hoof armor after his trim and glue clean up (I let the farrier remove the Love Child shells on front).  His frogs need some time to come back and thicken up too, and Easy Boots has a new design coming out that looks really helpful for hooves like his that don't fit standard sizes easily. We'll tackle next season's hoof protection plan when we get there.

Listen to your gut is the moral of my ride story....
Ready to go!
Gobble was a bit more of a nerve wracking ride to prep for, as I was headed on a long drive alone. I had to remind myself I was able to haul Prophecy to TN on my own, so I could do this drive, and I've been to Gobble before.  Of course the week leading up to the ride I had very little time to be out there prepping/packing due to traveling for work, but squeezed a barn run in Thurs night to get some Hoof Armor on his feet and last minute stuff piled together. It all worked out and we got on the road by 10 as I hoped we would - actually we left about 9am so I guess I got enough prepacking done!

Traveling to the ride was without issue, though over 4 hours of our 6.5hr trip was in the rain 😒.  We arrived to a very wet camp where I was directed to park (using 4WD) and to put him into a stall as the fields were too wet to primitive camp and set up pens.  Sully got a nice big stall in an older barn and I started to adjust my 'plans' of not having him right next to me.  Thankfully I brought along our little red folding wagon as it made moving stuff (like a bale of hay) easier, even though we weren't terribly far from each other.

Food and water time after the haul before vet in

I'm the first rig facing into the trees
Lucky #13?
So once we were settled and the line for the vet-in had died down, I grabbed my stud chain and pocketed it, just in case, and headed over.  Sully was so much more himself and stood nice and calm for the vet, no kicking out, nothing naughty.   We "trotted" down and back and immediately was asked - "What Breed?" based on his funny back end movement (hard to sprint in muck boots to get him faster lol).  She noted he was a little tight in his left loin from the trip and to warm up well before the ride to avoid a cramp.

Friday night was the ride meeting and pizza, then fairly uneventful night of little sleep (just how things go for me normally); I was toasty warm in my insulated trailer this year with my heater!  We got some more rain spurts overnight, and then woke the next morning to flurries in the dark...

 The 50s started at 730 and we were to start at 830 for the LD.  Sully was a bit more amped up, and harder to tack up this time, pretty much everyone around us was off in the 50 and a few horses were calling a bunch.  And of course, the flurries returned! I walked and lunged a bit to get him warmed up, and kept the blanket on over everything till it was time to head out.

Proof of the snow

Since we had such issue leaving for the FV intro I had already asked for help from a new friend doing the intro to get us out of camp if need be.  I decided to mount up before the start down where everyone was milling about and lo and behold, only a few hind end stomps as we hung out, and then they opened trail with a controlled start (truck led) down the 1.5 miles of road to the trail head...  That is where our biggest fight was...Sully was now out in the front group of top runners and charging through any request I gave.  The road was slick, and horses slipping, getting spooked by a herd a minis charging down the fence-line with us, and dogs running about barking; needless to say I had a few scary moments myself and could not pick a fight with him there.  Once off the road, we headed into the "worst of the mud" as told at the ride meeting, and lost our scoots on front.  One I was able to see it coming off and hopped down to pull it and attach to the saddle.  The other is somewhere in that stretch of mud, and I might see it again once some riders come across it another day.  Everyone I dealt with on trail was so nice, and waited for me to get the boot off and back on him, off we all went again.  Eventually I got him to drop down a bit to a few places back, and finally I was just so tired of the fighting and hopped off to put some distance between us and other fast riders.  Sully was less than thrilled about that idea and we had many discussions over how to be led through the mud and not cut me off or be on top of me.  We got to the top of a hill with some grass and was getting to get him to graze when another pair of riders came up - they waited for me to mount up and then Kat and her horse led the way keeping up a nice pace and carefully picking through the muddy areas for the rest of loop 1 (~14 miles in about 2 hours).  We were still in the top 10 of horses, but at a more reasonable rate now.  He felt a little different in his downhills and was definitely over trying to pick his way through mud at times.

Rider card as I debated an RO
I thought to myself, and said as we came into the hold, "if he isn't off/pulled, I should RO (Rider Option - horse deemed fit to continue but rider chooses otherwise) due to this mud and how fast he went out".  So I took my sweet time at the vet check getting to the pulse box - taking him back to his stall where he dove into the water, mash, and hay for about 10min while I pulled tack and put a cooler on.  He behaved wonderfully again and pulsed in at 50. I raised my concern to the vet over his hind end, and she found him a little tight in the hamstring on the left (B muscle tone) but told me it was not enough to say not to go out again.  We left it with me still debating the RO and to the let the timer know if I chose to.  Our "out time" was 11:24 and about 11:15 he was knocking the gate anxious to be saddled again so I figured we could walk most of loop 2 (~11 miles) and end up turtle or OT, it didn't matter.  We left at 11:28 and headed out completely alone. Some discussions were had over going out on the trail but then he was happy to mosey down the trail at his walking speed through more mud.  Then on the gravel road he attempted to pick up a trot and his hind stumbled.  We immediately went back to a walk. I'm not sure if this is where the "tweak" happened, or was the result of a tweak earlier on (he trotted into end of loop 1 just fine). Needless to say, we stayed at a walk and I kept a close eye on things as we continued on.  Still had no one around, and found he really didn't like the idea of Switchbacks.  You could see him thinking "Why the heck am I going back the direction I just came from?" as he stopped at a turn each time and looked down and back up the trail. Such a funny and alert guy.

Yes, I was cold! But this kept me toasty :)

Alone on Loop 2

We came to a big climb, and he just stopped.  I hopped off and waited for him to move.  It was slow going, steep enough and muddy enough I was winded as we made our way up.  Being as alert as he is, he would hear other riders approaching and we'd stop again off the side, letting them pass. Everyone of course asking if we were OK before moving on.  We just kept slowly making our way up.  I continued to hand walk him till we got to another water crossing that I hopped on for and he drank some there.  We crossed with a couple of riders from the 50 and they eventually surged off ahead; Sully while I could tell he was wanting to play catch up, was listening to me about not moving fast.  Eventually we came up on another climb where he again refused to move forward under saddle and tried to spin around and head back... Off I hopped now at 6.9miles of the 2nd loop and totally fine with hand walking him the rest if need be, he was telling me he was done. It was very slow going for both us, between him stopping and me trying to pick my way through mud without falling (now he was following me quite nicely) and another pair of 50s that passed us took my rider # to the let the vets know we were having some issues on trail but still moving.  About at 8.5 miles we came up on a road crossing and one of the vets had come up there to check him out and get us a trailer ride back to camp.  By this time he had given me a few scares with kicking at his belly, but also had started to graze as we went so I felt eased that he was not colicking.  He didn't get tight in the hind like a tie-up, but when he would pause I would go and massage anyway.  Once we got him moving again - he was wary of Tom lol - the vet felt confident he just tweaked his left stifle and could feel the swelling there. We waited for the trailer and Sully chowed down on the wet Omelene Tom offered him and alfalfa. We got back to camp, untacked and got some bute in him. We did some hand walking later after the vet and students gave him another look over; moving slowly and very reluctantly in one spot. My neighbor in camp (Amie Ealy) and his stall buddy came to our rescue when he refused to move tempting him with grain and apples.  He & Lugnut shared nicely and continued a walk on better ground where he moved much more freely.  We did another short walk before bed where he wasn't as reluctant.

I slept a bit better but awake about 5am, finally giving up at 530 to get him his mash and new water (he sucked several buckets dry after our return to camp Sat).  I dosed him with bute after his breakfast and started our drive back home about 7:30am.  That was pretty uneventful until about 2hrs from home when the truck started throwing some random errors and scared the living daylights out of me.  I stopped at a truck travel center to read manuals, etc, but couldn't trace down the issue so we carefully made our way home.  Once I dropped the trailer and started back up, everything was back to normal so there must be an electrical fault in there somewhere - to the dealer it will go!

I left Sully after feeding him and getting his blanket on.  Vet says "pasture rest" - not stall rest - keep him in turnout and on bute a few days (he is pasture kept anyway so nothing new for him).  If he isn't better in a few weeks we are to follow up with our vet, but she is fairly confident we were dealing with a "tweak" and nothing more serious.  He got some good rolls in and deep drinks after our long haul.

And now I have MUD for days to clean up in the trailer, etc ... you should see his tack, and tail!  <sigh> 

He already had a Magna Wave session planned for tonight with Sarah as a post ride check-in, so that will help with his stifle and we'll see if there are other sore areas as well.

While it wasn't a completion, we had a lot of other success.  He was well behaved for the vet on all occasions and leaving to go out on trail was not a rodeo - even alone. He pulsed well, unlike FV where we couldn't get him below 60. He ate and drank on trail. He ate and drank well in camp.

So the moral of the story here for me was to listen to my gut. If I had RO'd, he might have come away with just a tight hamstring.  Dumb human pride/goals came into play...
Other lessons:
Pack a dedicated hoofpick in the trailer (not sure how I missed that!) and Don't go out with the front runners / start later! (I really had no intention of heading out with that group but got sucked in)

Sully has been off the track just a year now, and is already camping well and enjoying the rides - I see him having a good future as an endurance horse. He is smart, and will take care of himself.  Each time we go out, he learns, and he remembers.  2019 will be a good year for us <fingers crossed>

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Starting off

All our prep work, which granted did not even cover everything I wanted to since he came home, paid off and we had a solid start to our endurance plans with the Fort Valley Intro on 10/20.

Tacked up ready to go #901

The week before the ride I had my farrier glue on Easy Boots (Love Child) on front & Scoot Skins on the hinds.  Neither of which was a perfect fit, so I will be back to the drawing board some there to make sure we can adequately cover his hooves in the future.  I'll be pulling those soon, which might be a feat in itself! 
I want to make special mention - Stacy Pratt of Heartland Scoot Boots went above and beyond to track down the single pair of Skins in the US of his size in time for us to get them on!  She is great to work with and always willing to help you trouble shoot :)

All glued on

It had been so hot I hadn't gotten around to adding a rump rug, nor the crupper as we hadn't found a need to use that yet... Suddenly it dawned on me these things would probably come in handy at Fort Valley, so we did a quick session with them... Lunged him with no issues (and probably one our best sessions yet on communication), so I hopped on and we went for a bit of a walk using our S-hack.  We still had some discussions on moving my requested direction when he wants to go the other way towards the pastures, but we over came those with minimal fuss and then went back to enjoy more hay and pampering in the stall as while I was brushing him, I noticed some "matted" areas on his back and sides... confirmed with Amanda as the dreaded rain rot.  So the next day he got a bath and some Bannix treatment.  His saddle pad came home to be washed, and I picked up some Coat Defense to use under the pad and blankets over the winter.

First time using the crupper <munch munch>

Pulled off the rope halter/rope and just used the Hack
Most of my other barn time was spent organizing and getting my trailer ready - I was expecting cold weather for FV, so made sure I had a warm sleeping bag and everything else Sully or I could need :)

Cozy sleeping area
Friday morning arrived and headed out to the barn after dropping the kids at school, did my finishing touches on the packing and hit the road - as we had a 2pm appointment with Stonewall Saddles for a fit check.  Amanda and I got out right on schedule and headed onward with our rigs and horses.

off loaded waiting for us to set up pens

our view of the vet-area from our camping spot

The fit check went well, I even had a few lessons from a "Connected Riding" instructor while riding Sully with the pressure map system.  Sully was measured - apparently a fairly non-remarkable back that should fit most medium saddles - photographed, and pressure mapped using our Synergist wide.  The angles and such fit him well; It is a little too much rock for his back BUT the Skito is doing a good job of taking that up.  We added some shoulder shims to fill in his hollows, but found it was an over-correction, so no shims is how we proceed.  I got to see the new Living Bar Saddle, but not ride in it as there is no way I could afford now anyway 😅  So - we will stick with Synergist and the Skito pad combo, watching for any issues from the rock in the future - but as he fills out and muscles up more it should fit even better. Now that Jackie has us in her system, if I ever found an older Stonewall I want to purchase she could check specs against his profile.

After that was done, it was time to vet in... That is where I saw how attached Sully was to Cheyenne, hollering up a storm and being very disrespectful on the ground to me and the vet.  He has this hind end kicking out thing he does when "pissy" about something - Item #1 that needs fixing for the next ride.  There were no other horses around the vet check at the time, which was both a good and bad thing - no risk to anyone else, but no horse around to possibly calm him. Dr. Rick was great about dealing with him and just asked that I have a red ribbon in his tail for Saturday. We never got his HR under 60 ... The rest of the day was totally uneventful.  He had never camped before but he did great in my panels.  I think out of the 4 horses that have used them, he tested them the least.

Reflective neck collar and pastern straps on for the night - turnout in case it rained

I was toasty warm Friday night - borderline too warm! Ended up out of my sleeping bag, heater off and the roof vent open. Saturday am we were up at 6, just as the milling around camp starts up around then.  Amanda and Cheyenne were off on the LD starting at 8.  Guessing that Sully might get a little worked up, we walked around to graze while they headed out. He calmed down nicely.

Cheyenne ready to go while Sully watches on

"ok, grass is better than worrying"
I put him back in his pen and then groomed while he snoozed. Sully LOVES to be groomed, and one of the few horses I know that loves his ears scratched. Finally, brought him out to tack up for the intro group meeting up at 915.  That went smoothly, he just stood and snacked lol

We walked down to meet the group and mount up - and that is where we had a little rodeo event.  One vet thought is was the crupper so I removed it and remounted...the rodeo and hind end kicking out continued, so the vet asked to see him move as she was concerned it was something on the left hind and wanted to make he was OK to go - we trotted out again for her and she gave us the OK to get on trail.  Mounted a 3rd time, not so many bucks but lots of backing instead of forward movement.  Jen Stevenson offered some advice and eventually just took him by the reins and started walking him towards the group as they left - then it was ears up all business happy boy!  Ugh...gotta figure out how to work through that! (item #2, tho both are related in his antics).

As I thought, Sully's big walk quickly left the rest of the intro group behind. We were not required to stay together, and having previous endurance experience just a new horse I was "ok" on my own.  He is a monster! lol  He spooked at nothing, powered up hills and loved trotting up the gravel roads.  We came to the rocks and I had to slow him down going up to make sure he was watching his footing - he has never experienced trails like this!  He always knew before me when a horse heading towards us and would stop and wait for them to go by,  not one thought of spinning and following them, just back to forward down the trails. And these trails are NOT wide enough for two horses side by side so I was thankful he was so easy to handle there.  Then item #3 came up that we need to work on - downhill rock navigating.  He wanted to go fast, I wanted him to pay attention to his feet and rocks. We had a couple of good stumbles and scary moments for me. He was a bit of a freight train and had to grab my gloves! I had to concede to some gaiting and of course trotting the few steps where he could on smoother downhill portions.  The saddle stayed in place just fine without the crupper fortunately!  Once that section of rocks was over it was nice open grass road and I let him "open up."  Kept our trotting at 12-15 mph and he was loving it.  We came to the four corners and he did actually drink a little at the tank, but was quickly ready to go again.  We headed back into a climb, this time he was willing to do it slower lol.  The road back into camp was all downhill, but his trot is just too big (and still getting used to it) for me right now to do that going down - so I let him gait/pace down as I could stay with him without feeling like I'm off balance.

Powering through the trails

Ridge line view on the way back

We got back into camp at the same time a bunch of LD riders came in, including Amanda and Cheyenne. Sully still misbehaved for the vet, but not as many kick-outs as Friday (Dr. Rick worked with us again). We 'Completed" but just barely by LD standards with 60/60 as he continued to be worked up - all A's otherwise. All his glue on boots survived, but he came away with a little gash on a front hoof above the coronet band - likely a wack to a rock during a stumble.   We headed back to the trailer, he went through 2 pans of beet pulp mash (not even his favorite thing to eat!), and let him dry off a bit from the sweat and then groomed off all the yuck much to his enjoyment.  I found out later that there was a miscommunication from the spotters and we missed part of the intro loop that would have had some more open road for us to fly through - darn - but nothing to worry about.

Mostly cleaned up and enjoying pan #2.
Sully calmly hung out in his pen watching the vet check for the afternoon until Amanda and Cheyenne finished the 30 :)  We let Cheyenne chill for a bit, then packed up and headed home with two happy healthy horses.

Amanda and Cheyenne coming in from the finish

This is only one of the 3 OD rides I have never done any part of before - and OMG Rocks!! Definitely something to prepare for next year, but what amazing views and we had such nice fall weather!

I am really looking forward to the future with this guy. Now I wait on the ride photos to pop up online to grab our first of hopefully many rides to come.  We will work on his issues to make our next ride smoother and safer for all involved - he probably could have handled the LD, but I really didn't want to push our luck too soon and I don't regret that choice one bit.  We learned a lot this weekend, and I had a blast being out there riding again! 

Another plus - spending a weekend with good friends!
Amanda and I before the ride meeting