Monday, May 1, 2017

BRHTR Take 3

This past weekend was the Bull Run Hunt Trail Ride Weekend - a fundraiser event about an hour away, offering 3 days of trail riding. This is my third time at the event, and was the first time on my own horse! I had not been since the Spring 2015 ride and figured if it didn't work out this year it was a 3 strikes and out deal for me!

Last week Prophecy was not ridden due to weather and schedule issues.  We did manage to get his trim in on Wednesday, which was 6 weeks, due to Paige having hurt her shoulder the week prior and needing to reschedule.  His hooves are really coming along nicely and had just finally begun to flare - whereas before you could notice it at 3 weeks post trim. He was much better for her for the whole ordeal - except on the right hind.  He was having a bit of difficulty keeping it on the hoof stand in front of him and only easily allowed it to be held up to the rear of him.  This made us a wonder a bit about his hip again or something else that could be causing him the discomfort.  I went to Bull Run with no intention of pushing him beyond what he could handle, physically and mentally, heat or hoof related.

He has gained a bunch of weight rather quickly with the spring grass coming in, so he now has a grazing muzzle and I had a vet consult to make a few other supplement changes, including the addition of Thryo-L to address any insulin issues.  I think that weight change did not help our saddle fit on the previous ride and may have caused some discomfort.

Hanging out in camp Friday
Friday I took a half day, as camp didn't open till noon anyway.  Got to the barn to hook up and finish grabbing the last of our stuff and then headed over with Jen & Brian and their two horses to camp.  We got ourselves set up and then relaxed for a bit. It was already hot & humid...

Post ride Friday
Around 4 or so Lynne came by with her horse Mercuric. They had already done a faster moving loop of the 5.5mile offered that day and she thought he was in good mental form to take Prophecy & I out. I was so hot I hadn't planned on taking him out, but I got changed and went out with them, I knew we needed to, and I really wanted to get her input on him.  Leaving camp was a sight to be seen of prancing and bouncing, a huge spook (which apparently left one ab muscle a bit sore I found out later!), and then we were off.  He acted like he had never seen ride ribbons or pie plates before giving them evil eyes and snorts - which come to think of it, he hadn't seen many!  But, he was happy to lead and once settled into the wooded areas seemed to relax.  He mentally got tired on the way back and was just over the muddy hill descents, so we kept pushing him more into the leaves and slightly off trail to keep him moving.  I hadn't put on his crupper for the short ride so the saddle slid a little on the hills and we used a 'turn up hill and shimmy trick' to help re-settle it that Lynne taught me (and she learned it from Jeannie).  I took him out without his front Scoot Boots knowing we weren't hitting the rocky section of trail and he was just fine even on the gravel road spots, which surprised me a little as he has been sensitive to them before. It was a nice
Finding greener grass
temperature in the woods and upon our return we stripped tack and then went over to the horse water tank to dunk buckets for cooling & sponging.  The saddle seemed to be situated better with the shim and the right panel set slightly wider than the previous ride; no soreness noted during his cool down.  We went back to Lynne's trailer to test out a few saddles of hers and the fit on him and then I put him back in his pen to rest for the evening with a dose of electrolytes in dinner, plenty of water and hay. We took a few walks for grass too once it started to cool off some.  He kept me up a bunch Friday night rubbing his face on the panels, but not really pushing much.  Occasionally he would pace the side closest to his buddy Silver, I'm not really sure why.
That picture is about the worst he was, other than grabbing a string of bailing twine that was tied to one panel and lifting straight up! I went over and took it off after that -  I think I need to bring him a toy next camping trip.

Saturday he got more electrolytes in his breakfast (which was absurdly early for not being an endurance ride as all the horses were up asking!) and extra helping of a few soaked alfalfa cubes to coat his stomach before tacking up later in the am. It was going to be a hot one and I knew it. I had brought lots of water for me, but realized I could only carry one bottle and forgot the pommel pack to be able to carry our snacks, etc.  Lynne to the rescue! She had a fanny pack that I was able to fit 2 of my water bottles, phone, carrots, and a dose of electrolytes with a syringe if we chose to go the longer loop after the lunch stop. During the process of tacking up he stomped my left foot pretty good with a back foot, I can't even remember why (evading something most likely).  Ouch.  We got things situated and then he was all amped up and difficult to get to on.  His two buddies from our barn that I had been hoping to ride with became out of sight and well, many spins, backs, small bucks, pop-ups, etc were had trying to get out of the camping area.  The same spot he spooked at the night before became a huge issue, and after a good 5 minutes of trying to do something other than spin or buck/rear, I decided it was time to just hand walk out of camp on the trails until he could settle down and focus.  And that is how I spent the first hour+, hand walking him.  I used Dee's "i" method so if he got ahead of me, around in a circle he went. He did a lot of circles around me in that hour! I knew I couldn't walk the whole ride, but at least we were heading out this way.
Unfortunately for me, as I led him across a muddy spot that I underestimated, he ended up on top of my right foot when I got stuck. Not really sure if he came down on it or just that we banged into each-other as I got out of the mud and he stepped down.  If I had realized how bad that spot was I would have sent him first rather than try to lead. He was still pretty loony at that point and probably rushed the crossing too.  A while later when we reached a good fence I decided to get on.  A group of riders stopped and 1 rider dismounted to help me with keeping him at the fence and fixing the saddle (which the cinch was now pretty loose); she was very understanding of the green horse moments and telling me she had been in my shoes before. In fact, everyone who past us would ask if all was OK and many would the commiserate with the "amped up horse" moments.  Once I mounted again we went off at a controlled trot down the gravel road and ended up with a group of gaited horses that took us under their wing, only to find out that Janet knew several other local endurance riders already - small world sometimes :) Janet and her Search & Rescue horse Cali started blocking Prophecy to fall in with the group and try to settle him down.  He really never settled, occasionally he would relax some - so we spent a good portion of the ride in a decent jig - easily keeping pace with the gaited gang!  A few times I was able to let him move out, and he led and followed.  He really took to the mares of the group of course! We left the group a few times, always to end up back with them. Very thankful for them and taking us in to help us through this ride! And Janet got some great pictures of us too:   (I do have some video taken on my helmet cam that I need to edit yet too!)

At one point I hopped off to fix his curb strap and that is when I realized how much my right foot hurt.  Getting back up took a leg up and a ping of pain as I pushed off.  Ok, lunch stop a "few miles" later and really tough to walk.  We all opted to the take the short loop back (just over a mile) to camp. Talk about a long painful mile on a jigging horse...Keeping my foot in the stirrup was difficult to say the least, but his jigging made it hard to not be in.
He completely lost it again upon entering camp and I had to fight to keep him sane for a moment long enough for me to get down with my bad ankle.  It was a long slow walk back to the trailer, the rough ground making it even more difficult for me.  I removed his tack and washed him off at the trailer. It had become a bit difficult to wiggle my toes and I actually wondered if I'd be able to drive everything home Sunday, but some ice, Tylenol, snacks and Mango Rum drink made by Bonnie, and my makeshift ankle brace of vet-wrap helped a bunch!  I was walking better, albeit slow, later that evening.

Later Saturday, actually looking tired and resting in his pen

Sunset on Saturday
I slept pretty hard Saturday night, only hearing him rub the panels around 330am.  At 5am I was woken to loud hoof sounds from Prophecy and the horse on the other side of me that was generally quiet unless stomping at a fly.  I looked out my window to see a horse where it shouldn't be!   I climbed down from bed and slid my boots on. I took a look at the horses and knew which pen they came from. I was able to put a lead rope on one, the other followed.  Their electric pen looked like the may have had a spat with each other over the divider and was still on.  I knocked once on the trailer but no answer. I clipped one horse to the trailer and then went to clip the other who immediately took off, then the other slipped his off neck collar on the trailer.  OK, I'm done!  I knocked harder and the owners came out to catch them.  It was about 530, getting light and I notice a horse laying down on my way back. I went over and he acknowledged me, sitting up some and I could see he had been laying a while already.   I kept and eye on him and came back at more reasonable hour to check on him.  A camping and riding buddy of the group was out and we chatted, decided to get the horse up and assess. He was very shakey on the back end, drawn in at the hips and very sensitive to touch. Started to think he was having a metabolic issue like tying up... He pooped and peed shortly after rising and reluctantly moved around.  The owner came out and was appreciative of my concern, but I do not think they had him checked by the vet :(  This was a very hefty Paso with a cresty neck.  I had seen him riding and he was not being pushed hard, but he did say he felt "funny in the hind end after lunch" when we talked; he was probably starting to cramp.

lunch stop munch
We saw a horse in distress at the lunch stop as well on Saturday and stopped to help, and I heard there were a total of 5 horses that required help at some point due to the heat Saturday, one of which had collapsed on trail. I'm very thankful I have learned so much from endurance to see when a horse is in trouble and also how to prevent it.  Many of these horses were still sporting winter coats and/or amped up like Prophecy and not ready to deal with 90+ humid weather.  A lot of the ride was in the sun too. Prophecy recovered well at lunch eating grass; he pooped and peed on trail and drank from his choice of creeks, etc.  He was definitely breathing hard tho, so I was keeping a close eye on him. He turned up his nose at first to breakfast on Sunday with electrolytes, but eventually decided it was good enough when he dumped it out on the hay. Loading up to go home was easy, though I've noticed he seems to dance more on the trailer ride home than heading out. His buddy Ransom was running the fence after us as we pulled in, Marty was hanging in the shelter. I turned him out to chill in the pasture before Sarah came.

I had actually already scheduled him for a check in with Sarah from Hands Hooves & Hearts for Magna-wave and/or massage upon our return Sunday.  Well, I got to use the Magna-wave on my
He liked to peek in on me while getting his massage
ankle and he got a full body check up massage.  No sore back; Tension at the poll, but somewhat to be expected with all the head tossing and over-collected carriage he put himself in. Tight hamstring on the left (usually it is his right side) and more reluctance for range of motion on that side instead of the right hind.  So at least I know despite the jigging, the saddle fit seems to be good! Now, just tweaking padding to keep it from rolling.  The Dixie Midnight has helped a lot with that - now once I know what pad I'm keeping I'll trim it to match its contour better and be easier to set up on him (always seems to end up longer on one side instead of even looking).
And I still love the Ghost saddle for myself too! Very secure for his antics, comfy seat for me.  My inner thighs are sore, but because I was dealing with the jigging more than anything else.

So I learned a lot... He has major anxieties about leaving and returning to camp. He does great in small group riding, and in woods, but I'm not sure if the Go-Go-Go attitude on the trail is out of competitiveness or insecurity. He is strong and forward, but did not give me or himself blisters from pulling.  He is way more fit than I thought and could have done a Sunday ride if I hadn't been hurting.

My next step is to decide one of two things... 1) Cowgirl up and let him go full steam ahead until he figures out that is not how to take care of  himself, or 2) find someone who wants that forward of a partner. He has tons of potential as an endurance horse - definitely has more Go and forward drive than I was seeking - my goal is to complete, not necessarily race/top-10 mentality, and I think he is naturally pushing that latter button right now. I don't see myself doing #2, except maybe for a short term thing to have someone else take him on his first 50's or something.  We have a long time to work at things together yet; I'd love to get him to a ride again this fall, but we will see how it goes.

Other items learned for my fellow Greenbeans:
-Lady's Anti-monkey Butt Powder is your friend! I wore the wrong undergarments on Friday lol... did not make that mistake Saturday.
-Vet-wrap is a handy stickier version of an Ace bandage that you can use on yourself!
-Baby-wipes only go so far for us primitive campers. I need to get some "dry shampoo" to feel a bit more human! (and maybe a bag solar shower until I replace my battery and can get the cowboy shower working again in my trailer!)

Tuesday morning I am off to the Orthopedic Sports Medicine doc to have my ankle checked out... it is getting easier to walk, but I know I could have done something to it under the surface that might need more attention than ice and a brace.  Then I can figure out the next bit of my plan, which might include a ride on Mother's Day to teach him a bit about the mountains!

1 comment:

  1. Good effort on your part to get this guy going.Lots of work. You have worked hard with all of your horses. May be you need a break via a made horse?