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|
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!|
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|
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|
|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.
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...
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>