Sunday, November 02, 2014

2014 AERC National Championship 100 Mile Ride

Daniel and I spent all day Sunday prepping our new trailer (picked up Saturday night!) for the trip to TX. 540-some-odd miles. Destination: AERC National Championship, Priefert Ranch, Mount Pleasant, TX.

Monday morning, Daniel zipped off to the tire shop to replace the trailer spare tire while I hauled hay and finished 100 little chores.

The new trailer!!
Finally on the road with Tanna, entered in the 100-mile championship and Sasha, my new endurance prospect, along to be Tanna's buddy horse and get some more experiences.

Trailer cam had to be added before we could leave.
We arrived at camp around 7 PM and were met by the ride manager and her husband and led to where we were going to camp. Being the first non-management/volunteer rig to arrive, we got our pick of the parking. Daniel parked right across from where the trails enter and leave camp.

271 overpass at night

We were able to quickly set up camp, putting out the high ties, hay bags and water buckets. We walked the horses for a good hour, scoping out the start of the trail and walking the last mile of the loops.

Tuesday, I decided to ride Sasha. I attempted to pre-ride the trail, but after the 3rd gate in 1/4 mile and lots of cows in the pastures (this IS a working ranch after all!!), I decided to retrace my steps and left the pastures behind.

271 overpass

All but one of the loops out of camp passed under the new highway 271 and all the loops came back that way. When I rode Sasha out that direction, I had dismounted to walk her under it. The thump-thump-thumping overhead scared her pretty badly, so I was glad to have dismounted. Since I decided to not pre-ride the trail after all, I spent 45-60 minutes getting Sasha used to the overpass. First we stood back and I let her watch the trucks and cars going overhead. And she did look. After she was bored, I moved her closer until we were under the overpass. We did leading games for a good long while under the overpass until her reactions were mild and her heart rate reasonable.

Sasha and I finished up our ride by doing 4 or 5 laps around the field that made up the last mile for all trails.

I got a quick shower and walked the horses before my boss showed up to see how we camp and how I spend my off time. Daniel and I showed off our new trailer and then we all headed to eat at the nearby Chili's.

Sasha after her 15 mile training ride.
Wednesday, I rode Sasha again. I dispensed with the idea of trying to open the gates and just stayed in the large field next to camp. Round and round and round we went...for over 15 miles. Good enough recovery and performance to make me think she might be able to try a 25 mile ride in the near future.

Wednesday afternoon, we checked in for the 100 mile ride and vetted in. We zipped off to the nearby Walmart for a few last-minute things and back for the ride meeting.

Thursday morning, alarm at 4:30, mounted by 5:45, start at 6 AM in the dark. I used my "nighttime" helmet that has a light mounted to it. Also had a Garmin Virb camera mounted.

Loops 26 miles, 25 miles, 15, 10, 11, 11. With hold times 50, 50, 40, 30, 30.

The riders all started at a walk. We soon picked up a slow trot and stayed together for awhile, but then we all begin to separate. By the time we reached the first gate into the ranch, Tanna and I had separated to the back. Tanna does much better on his own in these situations. Has a much better attitude and pays attention to his feet.

I have to pause here and comment on the gates. We went through a lot of gates. All day long, Gate after gate after gate. As mentioned earlier, this is a working cattle ranch, so gates have to be shut or opened as dictated by the ranch. While I had to open those gates myself when I rode earlier in the week, during the ride these gates were manned by a very nice group of Future Farmers of America kids. All but one of the gates were promptly opened for me with a smile. The other gate I actually had to get myself. ;-) The kids were sheepishly apologetic when they realized I had gotten it myself, but they weren't expecting me so soon. :)

It was a little freaky riding in the dark on trails I'd never ever been on. The other night rides I've done, I've known the trails very well in the daylight. But after awhile, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. At one point, we passed a herd of cows just a few feet to our left. They were all staring at us. Freaky reflections from my headlamp. Fortunately, Tanna did not even flinch.

The red loop
The first loop was actually 2 loops. The 11 mile loop, dismount and trot for the vets and then the 15 mile loop. When Tanna and I finished the trot out, I put him on his high tie while I switched helmets. To my surprise, Tanna was eating. So I waited for about 10 minutes until he decided he was done eating.

Then I remounted and off for the remainder of the 1st loop, which was the 15 mile loop. We were pretty much by ourselves for the entire ride. We'd occasionally see other riders on other parts of the trail, but we didn't ride with anybody else.

At the vet check, we pulled tack and took Tanna right to the vet. Good vet scores, everything was a go. Back to the trailer where Tanna proceeded to eat heartily, including his beet pulp. He doesn't normally eat beet pulp during a ride, but I was happy to see him doing it.

When I pulled his tack, I noticed he had a little bit of hair disturbance on his right loin. So I decided to put some Show Sheen along the back of the saddle pad. But when I was remounted and headed to the release timer to go back on trail, I realized I hadn't done that. So Daniel told me to go ahead and he'd get the show sheen for when I passed back by the trailer on the way out on my loop. There was a little mix up in my out time, so it took me longer to be released than we thought, so Daniel just brought the Show Sheen and my mounting block over to the release timer. I was cleared to go out on trail, but I hopped off and lifted the saddle to spray Show Sheen under it along the back edge to reduce friction. Remounted, I headed out on the next long loop.

The blue loop
This was a very long loop. We saw some new trail that I enjoyed. I even saw some donkeys hiding among the cows. Tanna hit the 40 mile blues where he was confused why we were retracing our steps and not exactly happy we were alone. I let him mosey for awhile. It was warm and I don't usually clip for a single day. I did ask him to move out when it was breezy and/or in the shade. After awhile, (as he usually does), he perked up and moved out on his own again.

Back at the vet check, I noticed Tanna a little ticklish in his loin area, but then didn't get any reaction. I asked the vet to pay special attention to the area, but nothing was really found at that point. In hindsight, I think he was guarding that area. He's a tough little guy and handles pain well. Maybe too well sometimes.

Tanna was still eating well. Going back and forth between his mash (beet pulp, alfalfa pellets and Omolene 100), straight Omolene 100, alfalfa hay and carrots. I quickly braided up his mane for the next 15 mile loop. I was planning to take it easy on this next loop and hopefully pick up the pace after the weather turned cool again.

Out on the 15 mile loop. This was the same 15 mile loop we'd done during the first long loop. Most of it was very nice, but there was one section I was very very happy to tell Tanna we would not have to do again. Tanna didn't seem to like it very much either.

During this loop, Tanna's HR monitor showed brief periods of high heart rate, but usually, it would return to a normal rate. I thought at the time that it was electrode placement or maybe the battery needed to be changed. Still possible, but in light of the ending, I wonder if maybe he was showing some pain.

This loop we had some cows standing in the road. They just stared and stared at us until we got within about 20 feet, then headed down the road in front of us.

Back at the vet check, Tanna was reacting more on his back than he had previously. Too far back to be saddle related. We took him to the vet, but I had a sinking feeling we were done. Tanna trotted out slightly lame. 54/54 cri though. They held his card and we hand walked him and fed him and kept him warm, but when we re-presented, I watched Daniel trot him out and Tanna did not move right. Before Daniel got to the turn around, I had decided I was pulling him if the vets didn't. But as Tanna trotted back, I could see Tanna was off. Verdict was left hind, but high up, likely in the loins where he had been reacting slightly earlier. I think it started in the right loin, then the left had to compensate too much for too long.

So our journey ended at 67 miles. I was disappointed, but pulling was the exact right thing to do. By Friday morning, Tanna was only slightly reacting when his back was palpitated and by the time we loaded him in the trailer to go home the next day, there was no reaction and no fill in his legs. A good recovery.

From what I understand from talking to other riders and vets, the terrain likely played a role in the pulls. Other riders were pulled for similar issues. Lameness with the cause suspected or pinpointed high in the back end. My personal thought is that the terrain caused the problem because while it was dry, the ground had dried in ruts and caused instability for the horses that didn't seem readily apparent.

Riders from the back, front and middle were pulled, so it's not likely that speed caused this issue.

I am glad we went and tried. Disappointed that we did not finish. But so glad Tanna is good to go for another day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Playing Catch Up (Again)

Ok, so it's been a long time. I have this thought that every blog post should be insightful and wordy. I should get over that and just keep things simple and quick. Mhmm.

Well, so quickly.

This season has turned out very differently than planned.

I had planned to do Lillie's first 50 this year. Maybe even Rinnah's. Unfortunately, their horse, Rain, was not suitable for us and we returned him to his owner (he was on lease). So the girls have not been able to compete this season.

I had planned to do Snap's first AERC ride(s) this season. Instead, I woke up one day and realized that I am not a horse trainer, I do not play one on TV and I really didn't need to be breaking Snap. So I made a tough decision to sell him. So he is gone.

We are currently evaluating a mare for the new addition to the herd. If we buy her, I will do an intro later. If not, well, then I'm still looking for that perfect horse. I decided that 4 horses was a little much, so we just have the one spot in the pasture.

Tanna has had a decent season. We have completed 3 50s so far this year. We started a 4th one at Biltmore in July. He was rocking right along when he came up lame just before the 2nd vet check. It turned out to be an abscess. So I went from being disappointed to being amazed that Tanna did 29 miles with a brewing abscess. He really does give and give.

Serts is hanging out being a good retiree.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Regarding Omeprazole

The April 2014 edition of the Endurance News has an article discussing the possibility of allowing endurance horses in AERC events to compete while on Omeprazole.

A common argument, I've heard: "everybody else does it." Really? I was told by my mama at a very young age that particular argument wasn't valid. The common rejoinder "if everybody jumped off a cliff…?" I'm not equating allowing omeprazole with jumping off a cliff, however, the argument "everybody does it" still isn't valid.

As I thought about this issue, several questions came to mind.
  1. Will marginal horses that should have been weeded out of the sport be allowed (even encouraged) to continue to compete to their detriment and the detriment of the sport? (I can think of at least one horse that was weeded out of the sport, and rightly so, due to continued issues with ulcers. Would this rule have allowed him to keep running until something worse happened?)
  2. Should we be letting people take the easy way out by dosing their horse with a drug, rather than managing the horse better? There are management techniques to deal with horses that don't or won't eat due to stress. And keeping a full belly is a good start to managing a horse prone to ulcers. The article in the Endurance News points out this rule change is really to benefit multi-day horses and cautions that drugs are not the [only] answer. Management is still key. However, will people really try to go down the management route before putting drugs into their horse if it's sanctioned by AERC?
  3. Since Omeprazole is used for treatment and prevention of ulcers, where do we draw the line on allowing horses being treated for ulcers to compete? Is there a way to tell if the horse is being treated vs just on preventative? Will drug test levels tell us that? If so, will drug test levels tell us whether the horse is on preventative or just at the start of their treatment phase for a full blown case of ulcers?
  4. Do we really know the long-term effects of allowing Omeprazole for endurance horses? From my understanding, the drug inhibits acid production. Stomach acid is part of the digestive process and is required to help breakdown the foodstuffs the horse is eating. If not enough acid is present, then the effect could be to dump undigested food into the hind gut, which can change the PH of the hind gut and cause the death of healthy microbial population which is necessary for fiber breakdown. Is the hind gut any less important than the stomach? What's scary is we can't really check for that. I can't get a scope of my horse's hind gut. That only can happen at an autopsy.
  5. If we're going to allow Omeprazole, what about allowing Ranitidine (another ulcer treatment that also is good for hind gut ulcers) or Sucralfate (a coating agent; also reportedly good for hind gut)? Why just Omeprazole?
Currently the rules allow for a full dose of Gastrogard (Omeprazole at a full tube; a treatment dose) 24 hours before the start of a ride. And a horse can be given anything they want after a completion exam. Is there really a need to allow dosage of Omeprazole during a vet check?

I believe AERC as an organization needs to be comfortable with the answers to these questions before making this important decision.

* A good article discussing Equine Ulcers by Kerry J. Ridgeway, DVM

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Garmin Astro Dog (Horse) Tracking System

After the many loose horses at Skymont 2013, I have decided to go tech for insurance against the time my horses end up getting loose.

Several years ago, Daniel and I purchased a Garmin Astro 220 dog tracking handheld unit. At the same time, we purchased 2 DC30 dog collars. The Astro 220 is now discontinued as are the DC30 dog collars. The dog collars were too short to use for horses and the collars themselves made of rough nylon, which discouraged me from using them for the horses themselves. However, Daniel would put a DC30 collar on the back of my saddle in case my horse decided to dump me and leave me.

But Garmin has upgraded. Of course.

Enter the DC40 dog collar. This collar is great! It is self-contained and can be put on any 1" biothane collar. Which means I can get collars that will fit the horses!

The unit itself weighs only 5.1 oz, including the antenna. I bought 1 unit to test it out since it is compatible with my Astro 220 handheld.

The Astro 320 is the new and improved handheld that is the upgrade of the Astro 220. We don't have a 320, but if we want another handheld, we'll purchase a 320.

There is a DC50 collar, but it is bulkier and does not work with the Astro 220 handheld. The DC50 does boast better satellite reception as well as better battery life, but I decided the DC40 should work for our purposes.

After charging the DC40 and painlessly linking it to my Astro 220 handheld, I retrieved a spare 1" dog collar from my box of dog goodies and used it to extend the length of the included DC40 collar. I then put it on Snap.

The tracking unit is just heavy enough to keep the unit rotated down at the bottom of his neck, allowing the antenna to stick straight up. The antenna is attached to the collar by zip or twist ties to keep it from flopping all over and stay pointing up.

 Here's a view under his chin. You can see the lump doesn't really interfere with anything.

The off side. This is 2 dog collars joined together to make it long enough for Snap's neck. If the testing bears out, we'll get color coded collars for each of the competition horses.

Snap has no issues lowering his head to eat or, in this case, to lick the mineral block. (Don't worry, he gets loose salt in his feed every day as well. The mineral block is for any extra he decides he wants/needs and for the deer.)

Here you can see the data displayed about the horse. He's approximately 65 feet away. You can see the battery life, the GPS reception, as well as the communication strength with the handset itself. You can Select Go To to get an arrow that points right at him.

This view shows the compass. The red arrow is Snap. The blue arrow is one of our old DC30s. I've turned my back on Snap and you can see this is telling me that Snap is behind me, slightly to the left and approximately 67 feet away.

I left the tracking device on Snap until the battery died. The battery is a rechargeable battery, not regular AAs. However, the Astro 220 handheld does use 2 AA, so you can change those batteries on the fly.

The DC40 battery lasted 27 hours 37 minutes transmitting his location every 5 seconds. Advertised battery life at that rate is 17 hours. I can extend battery life by changing the transmitting interval to 10, 30, or 120 seconds.

I'm thinking 10 seconds should be plenty, resulting in a good battery life, while providing good updates if I'm actually trying to track him. You cannot change the tracking interval unless you're right next to the transmitter. So you can't set it to 120 seconds normally and bump it to 5 seconds after he runs off.

I kept the Astro 220 in the house with me. Every now and again, I would turn on the Astro 220 and let it connect with the DC40 to see where Snap was. I could tell if he was just outside the window or at the very back of our property, likely checking out the hay I put out.

The unit did not seem to slow Snap down at all. He was his usually jolly self, playing with Tanna, running pel mel up the hill for no apparent reason, and eating his supper out of his bucket.

I pulled the GPS track from the DC40 onto the computer this morning. In 27 hours, Snap roamed for 5 hours and 12 minutes and was relatively still for the remainder of the time. He wandered 11 miles over his 3 acre field, playing with Tanna, moving with the herd and checking out the hay spots.

All in all, I'm fairly pleased so far.

Yes, there are downsides to this system. It's a line of sight system. So if I'm in a valley, but Snap is in another valley with a mountain between us, the Astro 220 handheld won't pick him up. However, if I move up the ridge line, I should start to get a bead on him and be able to head in his direction.

I don't plan on tying Snap (or any of my horses) with the collar that holds the DC40. I would want to minimize any risk of that collar breaking and then him running off without the DC40.

Next steps are to put the collar on the other horses and see how long the battery lasts and how the older horses take to having the collar on.

If this all works out, we'll purchase an Astro 320 handheld (which is the 220 upgraded) and we'll have 2 handhelds which will allow Daniel and me to split up and cover more ground.

Horses Sometimes Get Loose

A fact of endurance riding is loose horses. Not at every ride, but at some rides, horses seem to get loose at an alarming rate. Happily, most horses are recovered within a few minutes or hours and most without serious injury.

However, there are those other stories. The ones where the horses are lost for weeks in the woods and maybe are never seen again. I read these stories and ache for those riders missing their equine friends.

My husband, Daniel, has been involved in many happy horse recoveries over the years, but I am usually in another place doing another thing. Usually riding.

Last weekend, at the Skymont endurance ride, nearly every popular containment system failed.

Several horses got loose from an electric corral on Friday morning, leading searchers on a merry chase down the road before a local person managed to corner and catch one of the horses. Fortunately, the other horses hung around until more help could arrive and catch all of them. Daniel ended up leading all 4 energetic horses back to camp from the back of a [motorized] mule.

Sometime overnight Friday night, another horse managed to get out of a metal corral system. He was caught not too far away. Meanwhile, his buddy snapped his high tie (unsure of the brand) and took off as well.

On Sabbath, another horse managed to slip his halter and lead other searchers on a merry chase down the pipeline for several hours. Yet another just walked away from the trailer he was tied to after apparently untying himself.

Oh, and don't think because it hasn't happened to you, it can't. One owner of one of the loose horses had said "I haven't had a loose horse in 30 years." What is that Proverb? Pride goeth before a fall?

Dozens of volunteers, including Daniel and me, spent many hours over 2 days covering miles and miles searching for Fougueux, a pretty chestnut wearing a green blanket. In the end, he was caught Sunday evening, just before dark, over 3 miles from ridecamp, down a steep grade. Amazingly, he seemed to be in great shape with very few obvious injuries.

All this excitement, caused me to think about my own horses getting loose. How would we find them? What if we didn't have dozens of volunteers to comb the woods? What if they weren't wearing a distinctive blanket that would aide hunters or other casual observers to point us in the right direction?

Anybody who knows me knows a couple things about me. One being, I'm a tech geek. I like tech. I like gadgets. I have a lot of them. So, I am turning to tech to help me locate one of my horses should they get loose.

Hunters have needed such technology for years to follow their hunting dogs or simply locate a dog that went too far afield. Why not use the same technology for horses?

So, join me after the break to discuss the Garmin Astro dog tracking system...for horses.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

BSF 2013 - Full of Lessons

Having missed the VA Highlands ride, I was very excited to go to the Big South Fork ride the weekend after Labor Day.

On Wednesday, Daniel and I finished loading the trailer, put the dogs in the truck, loaded up Snap, Rain and Tanna, and headed to BSF. This is an easy trip for us. 3 hours driving time. Add a stop for diesel and ice and we arrived at camp around 2:30 PM.

Rain is our new horse. He is a 16 year old gray Arabian gelding that we got for the girls to ride since Serts has been retired from competition. We are leasing him for the moment. He is doing great. We have had him for a little over a month and are working on getting him back in shape after 10 months of hanging out on pasture.

We pulled into our favorite spot, unloaded the horses and got them set up on their high ties. Snap on the side by himself on one of the TieRite ties. Rain on the other side at the back on the other TieRite. Tanna at the LQ window next to Rain. Tanna was on the HiTie brand. Really nice to have a quick set up for the horses.

We continued to do our camp chores until we were all set up; pausing to chat with others that were already there or pulling in. I still had plenty of daylight left, so I saddled up Snap and headed out on trail for a bit of a ride. I have been working Snap a lot just him and me. We've been having some issues with him spooking. Stopping short mostly, but some harder sideways spooks. We walked for about 10 minutes, then I asked for a trot.

Snap has a great trot, but he hasn't learned to relax in it much when we're out by ourselves. He's usually quite tense. This ride was no exception. He was tense and looking around. He would stop and snort at things.

On our way out, we met Nelia and Kara coming back in marking trail for the ride. Snap did quite well with passing them. No issues. I was pleased. Pretty sure that's the first time he's encountered horses going the opposite way on a narrow trail. At least when we're by ourselves. He did well and continued out the trail.

When we got to Bandy Creek about a mile from camp, he stopped and snorted and danced. Refusing to get his pretty feet wet. I just sat relaxed and blocked every effort to turn around to go back. Finally, he stretched his head down, blew at the water and stepped in. Walked calmly across. Goofy boy. Only took about 3 minutes. On we went, sometimes walking, sometimes trotting.

We were in a good trot and I was starting to think how well he was doing. We came around a bend in the trail and he spooked hard to the right. I didn't and fell on my rear. Lately, I've been thudding when I fall off, but this time, I actually bounced. Hit the ground and popped right back onto my feet. Snap was standing a few feet off, staring intently into the woods…at a stump. I walked up to him and took the reins.

The Barefoot Cheyenne saddle was on its side. A treeless saddle I picked up a couple months ago. It's a nice saddle, but tends to slip on Snap when he spooks like that. Likely because I'm too much in my feet and not enough on my seat. I do keep the girth quite snug on him. I loosened the girth, righted the saddle and tightened the girth again all while Snap danced and snorted. Maybe the stump moved.

I was nervous about getting back on, so I hand walked him down the trail (away from camp!) for a few hundred feet. Then I found a ledge along the trail, got back on and headed away from camp again. This time at a walk. No more trotting.

As we walked along, I analyzed. Snap still spooked at stuff, but at a walk his spooking was very mild and easy to ride. He wanted to look at EVERYTHING. So we walked. At the pavement, we turned around to go back to camp. And continued to walk.

Time to re-evaluate. I had been thinking of Snap as a horse that needs to be conditioned (muscled up) for a 25 mile ride. But he isn't ready for that. He needs lots of time on trail to look at things and realize they won't hurt him. I forget that things are so new to him. I've been rushing him and it's time to back off. So now, I'm not thinking about doing a competition on him anytime this season. We'll go out and walk and walk and walk. Maybe some trotting when with other horses or when he's totally relaxed.

Also, I'm going to fit my Specialized saddle to Snap and use the treed saddle on him for a good while. That way if he does spook hard, the saddle will stop slipping so much.

That was the first big lesson, paradigm shift number 1.

Wednesday evening, Jean, Rinnah and Lillie arrived to set up their tent next to our trailer. We visited, did chores and went to bed.

Thursday - more lessons

Thursday morning, Daniel headed out on his mountain bike to explore nearby bike trails. Rinnah and I took Snap and walked over to the Bandy Creek Stables to get Sport from his stall. Sport belongs to a good friend who let Rinnah ride him on Thursday. Rinnah had never ridden him before.

I picked up Sport's bit, breast collar and girth. Rinnah started off leading Sport back to our trailer about 1/2 mile away by trail. I followed leading Snap. Rinnah enjoyed walking with Sport.

Back at the trailer, I had Rinnah hand graze Rain nearby while Sport took Rain's high tie for saddling. I saddled Sport with the Bob Marshall saddle for Rinnah then switched out horses and saddled Rain with the Barefoot Cheyenne saddle for me.

Finally we were ready and I boosted Rinnah up on Sport, mounted Rain, and we headed off to find Ike and Rebecca to ride with them for a little bit.

We headed out on trail some walking, but trotting, too. At first Rinnah led, but felt uncomfortable in the front on a horse she didn't know, so she got behind me. But Sport moved out around Rain again and got back in front. I thought things were ok, but realized at this point, I should have insisted Rinnah get behind me again.

Rinnah came to a muddy area in the trail. Sport started to walk across, but changed his mind and jumped across. Something happened and he took off running. I suspect he might have been bitten by a bee, yellow jacket or horse fly. I hollered at Rinnah to stop Sport, but he didn't slow down. I was too far away to do anything. Sport took off through the woods instead of staying on trail. Rinnah hit a tree and slid off.

I frantically pulled Rain to a stop and slid off as Ike and Spyder zipped past me. I tossed Rain's reins to Rebecca and ran to Rinnah. She had gotten up and was coming toward me, crying. Walking and breathing, thank God, were my first thoughts. Ike saw that Rinnah was up and moving, so he went after Sport who was still running.

I saw blood on Rinnah's mouth. I gathered her to me and hugged her. Talking to her. Asking her to concentrate on breathing and calming down so I could take a look at her. When she seemed a bit calmer, I moved back from her and looked her over. Her upper and lower lips were busted on the left side of her face. Some minor scrapes on her left cheek. I could see her teeth and she wasn't spitting blood. So I moved on to her shoulder and collar bone. I quickly ran my fingers along her collar bone. Rinnah impatiently said that didn't hurt, but her left shoulder did. I asked her to rotate her shoulder, which she did. It hurt, but she was able to do it.

Rinnah wanted to sit down, but I was afraid if she did, she wouldn't get back up again. So I told her we needed to walk back to camp. We were only about 1/4 mile away. From experience, I know that it seems unthinkable to walk right after you fall off, but as long as limbs aren't broken, walking evens out the breathing and keeps the blood flowing, restoring balance and calms the brain. I asked if she wanted to get on Rain and I would lead him, but she said no, she'd walk. I doubt we could have got her on without hurting her anyway.

I took Rain back from Rebecca and she headed after Ike to help get Sport. Rinnah and I walked back to camp. Her speech started to become harder to understand as her lips swelled up and she spoke out of the corner of her mouth, but we talked as we walked; debriefing.

Lesson number 2. Keep the kids behind me. Brain lapse on my part. I knew that. But didn't do it this time. Lesson number 3, spend some time teaching the kids to completely drop their reins, then snatch up the reins and stop the horse from a walk/trot/canter. Something I should have done long ago.

We got back to our trailer and Jean took over. I put Rain on the high tie and stood around. Jean got Rinnah's shirt off to examine her more closely. Her left shoulder was scraped and bruised. Jean started icing Rinnah's face and shoulder.

Once Rinnah seemed to be ok, I went back to Rain and was going to go back out and look for Sport. I was about to take him off the high tie when my phone rang. Rebecca said Sport had been caught, was untacked and back in his stall. She asked about Rinnah. I told her Rinnah seemed to be ok for the moment. Rebecca and Ike went out to do their ride.

I hopped on Rain bareback and went over to the stables. I tacked him up with my Bob Marshall saddle and headed back to camp. At least my stirrups were now set for the 50 I was planning to do on Tanna on Friday.

A few hours later, Rinnah seemed to be much improved. She was talking better. The ice was helping keep the swelling down. The visitors she got cheered her up and she got to tell the story many times. Brooklyn, a youngster they've met at other rides, came and spent a good bit of time sitting and chatting with Rinnah.
After awhile, Rinnah was off with her friends around camp. Praise God!

I went to registration. Chatted with several people. Then vetted Tanna in. He weighed 802 pounds at the start.

I'm not really sure what happened to the day. I had several hours when I could have done stuff. But somehow I didn't. I felt completely unprepared for the ride the next day. I hadn't even put up a vet check area, so I decided to just vet check at the trailer.

We went to the ride meeting. 50 milers had a 64 bpm pulse criteria. 2 holds of 50 minutes each. 7 AM start for the 50 milers; 8 AM start for the 30 milers. Loop 1 was the Pink and Black loop at 15.8 miles. Loop 2, Yellow and Black: 16.2 miles. Loop 3, Red and Black at 18 miles. The loops got progressively harder as the day went on.

Tanna has had some changes to his hind legs since GERA. I had my vet look at him in August and then I asked Dr. Ken to look at him closely at BSF. I took Tanna to see Dr. Ken for a pre-ride evaluation so we could monitor changes during and after the 50 mile ride to see if there was anything that needed further investigation or if this was his new normal at 19 years old with 2200 endurance miles.

Back at camp, I did chores, provided some materials for a sling for Rinnah's shoulder and went to bed.

At 5 AM, I got up. Took Y-lee out, fed Tanna, put hay out for Rain and Snap.  Then back into the trailer for breakfast. Out to saddle Tanna. We still had a few minutes, so Daniel and I took Snap and Tanna for a little walk. I didn't want to leave Tanna to spin around and possibly kick himself literally moments before the start, so he came along to stretch his legs, too. Rain was left to holler his objections since Jean and the girls could walk him after the start.

At 6:50 AM, I got on Tanna and he jumped around, ready to go. But he wasn't tense and didn't feel like he was about to explode. Just ready. I walked him out to the gravel road to warm up and found Joe and Bogey, our riding partners for the day. The plan was just to get both horses through the ride.

We started about mid-pack and I was happy to see Jean, Rinnah and Lillie standing nearby as we trotted past after the trail was open. I waved and off we went, turning quickly off the road into the trail.

Tanna settled into a good pace quickly. He was eager to run, but responsive and not dangerous at all. What a great start to the ride. Gorgeous morning; a little humid, but still pretty and a little cool that early in the morning. Joe and Bogey set a good pace. Joe and I switched leading several times in the first 2 or 3 miles.

When we got to a gravel road, Joe and Bogey took off at a canter, as did the other riders around us. I spun Tanna into a stop and let them pass, then sent him after at a decent trot. Letting Tanna into a canter that early in a ride on an open road was just asking for him to pitch a fit to get rid of me and go into a full out gallop. Joe pulled up and let me catch up. I wasn't concerned. I knew I'd have caught them when we hit the trail again.

We turned back into the trail and followed the gently rising terrain. It's rather deceptive how much the horses have to work on that climb. It's so gradual, it's not enough to walk, but can take more out of a horse than you'd think.

The yellow jackets were out in force. We had to run to get away from them at least twice on that loop, maybe more. Usually the first horse will stir them up, getting the horses behind in trouble. Best thing to do is just run out of them.

All too soon, we were back on the home stretch back toward camp. We hit Bandy Creek about a mile out and then walked up the hill before picking up a light trot. We wanted to bring the horses into camp as easy as we could to have them ready to get their pulse down to 64 bpm.

When we caught sight of the gravel road, we hopped off and hand walked our horses to the in timer. I provided my card to get my time and split off from Joe. He went to his vet check tent and I went to our trailer.

Daniel had set up my saddle rack and I quickly pulled Tanna's tack. His HR was at 63 before I could get the saddle pulled. So I grabbed hay bag and headed down to the vet check. He vetted in great with a 56 pulse and As on everything but a B in guts. A B in guts is fairly normal for him.

Dr. Ken came over and checked Tanna's legs. They were still nice and tight with soft wind puffs and wind galls. He told me to come back before leaving on my next loop to see how standing in the vet check affected him.

As I followed Daniel and Tanna out of the vet area, I looked over at Joe to see how Bogey was doing, but got a thumbs down. I glanced at Daniel, who was headed toward the trailer with Tanna in tow and then went over to see Joe. Bogey was off on his right front. And quick as that, I lost my riding buddy. At least we hadn't had to do the 18 mile tough loop first. Would have been bad if Bogey had come up lame during that loop.

Back at the trailer with Tanna, I threw a light blanket over his back and rear end. We were in the shade and it was still a bit cool with a slight breeze. Enough to make Tanna cramp without a cover. Tanna ate a little, but mostly just dozed. His normal MO during the first vet check. I busied myself chatting with Jean and Daniel and prepping my saddle pad and girth for the next loop.

About 5 minutes before I went out on my 2nd loop, I took Tanna back to Dr Ken to check his legs. The wind puffs were still soft and pliable. No issues after standing for 40 minutes of the hold. I had been worried they'd puff right up during the first hold, but no issues. Tanna grabbed a short drink from a water bucket as we passed. I borrowed Joe and Tamra's mounting block and headed out on trail right at my out time.

This next loop was a little longer at 16.2 miles and a bit tougher on the elevation. The trail started out the same as the first loop for the first 3 miles or so. There were horses in front of me, but I kept behind them a good distance to keep Tanna from getting too racy, trying to keep up. When I hit the gravel road again about 3 miles out, I allowed Tanna to move into a nice canter. As long as he was relaxed and not racy or demanding, I would let him canter. We ended up canter a good long while until the road climbed a little more than I wanted him to canter, so we dropped to a walk, then moved back to a trot. Tanna was doing really awesome. I was having so much fun with him.

And then, we hit the down hill. The long down into the valley to the creek. We caught sight of about 5 riders in front of us and Tanna began to go a little nuts on me. I stayed back until we got to the bottom and the other riders paused in the creek. It was very shallow though and Tanna showed no sign of drinking, so I let him walk through. I knew there was much better water in 2 or 3 miles.

Then we were on a nice flat, wide, good footing trail running along the river. I let Tanna canter a good bit until another rider came along behind and caught up with us. Tanna began to get racy again, so I pulled up and let the other rider pass. I insisted on a trot, but the damage was done as two more riders caught and passed us. Tanna was completely beside himself with anger. He officially had "race brain." When we reached the good deep water, Tanna would not settle. He spun and spun and tried to take off. Finally, I just left the water and started the climb out.

Tanna did manage to walk as he was ahead of the other horses. He walked eagerly and we didn't take long to get to the top. When we reached the top, I was disappointed. For some reason, I had thought there was a water trough at the top of that climb. One of the reasons I let Tanna go on from the deeper creek water. But there was not. And so, Tanna did not drink. He'd only drunk a little at the vet check. There was no more good chance for water until Bandy Creek a mile out from camp and Tanna finally drank well there. I was not pleased that he'd gone so long without much water.

When we reached the vet check, Tanna did drink quite well during the check. So I began to relax about the water. He'd taken longer than usual to start drinking, but since he was now drinking, he'd probably keep doing so. This time, Tanna vetted through with a 64 pulse and mostly As, but the B on guts and now an A- on overall. Dr. Ken did his vet check this time and checked his legs, which were still good to go.

Back to the trailer where Tanna ate better and drank some more. I checked Tanna's HR and realized it was too high. It was hanging at 60. We had him in the shade with a fan on him. We kept water on him the entire time. His HR would go up and down. It was weird. We decided I would go out on the last loop and keep a close eye on him. I could always come back to camp if I needed to. His entire demeanor was pretty normal for him. I tacked him up and took him back to Dr. Ken for a recheck. Legs were fine. Pulse 48. Gut sounds fine. So I got on and headed out on my 3rd loop a few minutes late.

This last loop was the longest at 18 miles and the hardest with the most elevation change, including several good climbs. Tanna left camp at a trot and trotted along at 8 mph with a 105 heart rate. Ok. I'll take that. As we passed the finish line, I saw Nancy coming to wait for the first place finishers.

As I went along, I realized I had neglected to get my sponge and more electrolytes for Tanna. I gave him the last 10 ccs that I had out of the tube in my saddle pack. He'd only gotten 15 ccs up to that point in the ride. I should have given him more. I began to think his HR in the vet check might have had something to do with too little electrolytes. My sponge was on one of my other saddles and I'd forgotten to grab it. I'd been ok for the first loop, missed the sponge on the second loop and completely forgot to get it for the 3rd loop.

When we reached the first good creek crossing, Tanna drank. Then I hopped off into the middle of the creek, pulled my t-shirt off and sponged my horse good. That shirt was COLD when I put it back on!!! I did that twice more during the loop. Should have had my sponge, but that didn't stop me from getting water on him.

The trail got really slow after that first creek crossing. Either downhill or uphill or very rocky terrain. Very hard to make any decent time. Tanna was willing, but I didn't want him trotting through big ankle-turning rocks. So we walked a lot.

Finally, we came to the last really big climb. I slid off to walk this one. I knew it would be slow going with me on the ground, but it would save Tanna some wear and tear.

I wished that Tanna knew how to tail. I have tried in the past with very little success. This time, I decided to try again. I asked Tanna to move past me and let my long reins play through my hand. When he got past me, I reached out to grab his tail and he stopped and spun toward me. We did that several times until he was right up against the cliff going up on the left side of the trail. This time, when I sent him forward, he tried to turn left, into the steep uphill. I quickly asked him to move forward again and he did! I had his tail and he pulled me up the hill. A couple times I had to restart him, but we went up that hill a lot faster than if he hadn't helped me. And his heart rate was 30 beats lower tailing me up rather than me being on him.

We came to a level place in the trail and Tanna pulled off trail to eat grass. I noticed, to my surprise, that another horse and rider were there. I had caught up with Paul and his horse Adam. Adam was doing his very first ride. A tough 50! I stood, hunched over, trying to catch my breath. Even with Tanna's help, it was a tough climb for me! Finally, my breathing slowed some and Paul got back on. I asked, is it over. He said he thought so. So I gathered up my reins and moved Tanna to a ledge for me to get on.

We moved on together for awhile and finally came on a water trough. There was very little water in the bottom. It didn't even completely go across the bottom. Just a small pool in about 1/3 of the bottom. Tanna drank anyway.

We continued on. Tanna was thrilled that we could trot again and moved out smartly with a good heart rate. We came to a little spur trail and Tanna tried to turn down it. I sent Paul on ahead, and took Tanna back down the other trail, hoping Tanna would pee. He didn't, but ate a bit of grass.

We got back on trail and trotted until we saw Nancy by the finish line. Paul and Adam were there in the middle of the trail. I stopped Tanna a few hundred feet back and waited until he finished with his card and moved on and to the side of the trail. Then I asked Tanna for a canter and we cantered across the finish line in 20th place. Yay! I pulled up and handed Nancy my card, then headed toward camp.

I came in the back of camp and went straight to the trailer. Tanna began eating everything he could get ahold of. I had to wait a couple of minutes for him to lift his head out of the feed bucket to drop his hackamore off his face. I pulled his tack and cleaned him up while he ate and then stood and waited some more while he ate. I wasn't really willing to pull him away from food. Finally, he slowed down and I took him down to vet in. He got several As, several A-s and a B+ on guts. 62 pulse. Completion! He weighed 748 at the finish, but rebounded to 776 by the next morning.

Dr. Ken looked at his legs, which were still good. He told me to go ice his legs for an hour and come back. So I went and iced for an hour. Tanna's legs were still good. All through the ride they were fine. After icing, I put Ice Tight on his legs and wrapped them all the way down to the top of the hoof. I'd been doing that wrong. I'd been stopping above the fetlock joint, but for the issues I was seeing, I need to wrap further down. So basically, what I've been seeing is Tanna's new normal from being an endurance horse for 11 years. But I'm glad to know that instead of worrying that I'm seeing the effects of some structural damage that I'm ignoring and making worse by continuing to work him.

So lessons learned on Friday include making sure I have a full tube of electrolytes in my saddle pack. Tanna did not have enough electrolytes through the day. He made it through, but the lack of electrolytes likely caused him to not drink as well in the beginning and maybe caused his weird HR. I relearned that I can't have him in any kind of race situation like he got caught up in during the second loop. He turns stupid and won't take care of himself. And I need to be sure I have a sponge on all my saddles so I don't end up choosing a saddle without a sponge for a hot ride!

Definitely a weekend of lessons to remember. All in all, I had a good time at BSF. Mostly thankful that Rinnah is ok. She's one tough kid and is already itching to be able to ride again.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Powwow - or the First Real…

Powwow Memorial Day. So I call it Powwow Memorial Day, but the real name was Camp Osborn Summer Slam. Every February, a ride is held in Sylvester, GA, at Camp Osborn, a boy scout camp. That ride is called Camp Osborn Boy Scout Pow Wow and I usually refer to that ride as simply Powwow. So if I call the ride Powwow, well, that's why.

Thursday, we loaded up as much as we could, planning to head out early on Friday. Friday morning, we managed to get Tanna and Snap loaded and were on the road by 7 AM. I was hoping the trip would only take 7 hours or so, but due to one thing or another, we didn't arrive for 8 or 9 hours. We didn't have any real trouble, but the route we took went through small towns and rural highways.

We arrived with plenty of (hot) daylight left. We were thrilled to park near Joe and Tamra and went about unloading the horses, setting camp up and of course, visiting with Joe, Tamra and Susan. :-)

As it started to cool off a bit, I stated I was going on a ride and asked Tamra and Joe to join me. I was happy when they both agreed and I went off to saddle up…Snap! Yay! It was his first trail ride with horses other than Serts.

Snap is green, but coming along amazingly well. I've been quite pleased with his willingness to learn and his ability to retain what he learns. He can get plenty mad, but isn't scared of much and when he is scared, his reactions are mild compared to what Tanna used to do to me back when I first got him.

We all got ready and headed out at a nice walk. I sandwiched Snap between Joe's guy Friday (I had to…) and Tamra's Sport. Snap and Friday are half-brothers, both sired by Dr. Ike's stallion Kamaal. Snap's other half is Rushcreek and Sport is all Rushcreek. So it was kinda like a family reunion ride!

Snap has a habit of playing with his bit, but on this ride he had so much to look at and think about, he never tried to suck the bit into his mouth to play with.

Most of the time, we stayed in the same line-up with Joe and Friday leading, Snap and me in the middle and Tamra and Sport following to scrape me off the ground if Snap got rid of me. After a few scary things that Snap mostly just looked at, we passed the mule barn. That startled him a bit when he realized there was something alive in the nearest stall, but it wasn't a bad spook.

We moved on down the trail and Joe picked up a trot with Friday. I was not ready for trotting, so firmly told Snap no. We're still working on the 2 rein stop. He does pretty well with no excitement, but with Friday getting further away, I reverted to the 1-rein stop that I have worked on for a year and it worked well. I asked Snap to walk after Friday and we went back and forth on him wanting to trot vs me saying no. We caught up with Joe and Friday and off we went again. Tamra was very patient with me suddenly half-spinning Snap in the middle of the trail when he wouldn't respond to the 2-rein stop.

We continued in this vein for a lot of the ride. Joe would trot off and I would work on controlling Snap. Finally, Snap walked briskly on a loose rein while Friday, still in sight, trotted away. After several steps, I rewarded Snap and we trotted to catch up. I was able to somewhat rate Snap's speed and keep him off Friday.

The worst spook came near the end of our ride. We had to walk past a pile of boats on our right, a trash can with a flapping trash bag on our left, through an arch with red turn ribbons on the right and a long flowing "don't go here" blue ribbon stretched across the trail headed to the left. The wind picked up the trash bag and it was just too much for Snap and he bolted for all of 3 steps and then spun sharply when the blue cross ribbon swung toward him. Scared me, but I was on and he wasn't running. We turned and went back through the arch and then back again. That was enough and he didn't bolt again.

So then we headed for the bridges. The first bridge was a wooden bridge with no hand rails. Snap wasn't thrilled about the sound his feet made and let his rear end drift toward the edge. That made me nervous that he might back right off the bridge, but he didn't. He made it across without incident. The next bridge was a metal bridge with guard rails and some rubber matting that went down the middle of the bridge, but ended half-way across. Snap looked cautiously at the bridge as he walked, but he did not bolt and made it safely across that bridge as well. What a good boy!!!!

I thought we were out of the woods so to speak as we were back in camp. We paused at Samm and Lance's camper to chat when a little bullet shot out from their area right at Snap's right hind leg. Snap does not like dogs in that he will try to hurt them if he can. This was a tiny chihuahua. Snap does not always stand still. Dead dog, I thought. But fortunately, Snap didn't move a muscle and the dog was retrieved without incident. Whew.

So I had a very good ride on Snap. Proud of his progress. Just need to keep putting miles and experience on him.


Sunday morning, the ride started at 6:30 AM. All 85+ riders started together. The 25 mile ride would go for 15 miles and then stop for a vet check. The 50 mile ride would do the same 15 miles, do a trot by for the vets, and then continue on for another 10 miles before returning for their first vet check.

Since Joe and Tamra were both doing the 25 mile ride, we decided it would work nicely for us to share a vet check area. They would likely be out on their second loop when I came in for my first vet check.

I had decided to start about middle of the pack of all the horses, but when trail was open, only about 15-20 riders started and then there was a large gap with most of the pack still warming up a good distance away. Well, I was ready, Tanna was ready and we were leaving, so I started my ride.

I knew it was going to be warm, so I decided I wanted to keep moving at a good pace and finish the ride before it got too hot in the afternoon. Tanna and I had been working on consistent speed during training and I figured this was a good ride to put that into practice. No hills, just trail.

A few riders passed me, but I settled into a nice pocket where Tanna was doing reasonably well and we were riding by ourselves. I still had my hands full. I had a rocket. Tanna wanted to gallop. I insisted on a trot. Usually I can rate his trot, but this time, I was having a very hard time rating his trot to the speed I wanted. We spent the first 15 miles arguing about how fast to go and my arms were tired! I decided I was happy he was trotting instead of bucking or running away with me and tried to compromise with a 10 mph trot. That worked somewhat ok, some of the time.

We flew into camp for the trot by. Kim Williams, the ride manager, hollered at me to stay to the right for the trot by. At least I think that's what she said as we flew by. We were trotting. Really. Most of the time. I was trying very hard to keep Tanna from galloping through camp. I settled for levitation. I hoped the vets could evaluate the gait of a horse that didn't touch the ground. I never heard a vet holler at me to pull up. If they did, I'm not sure I could have heard them with the wind rushing past my ears. So off we shot through camp, around the turn away from Snap and back on trail. Tanna never looked at Snap, never offered to head back to the trailer. He was on a mission.

We wound through some of the same trails we'd done on the first part of the loop, but turned right when we came out on the road. We trotted and cantered along the side of the road, slowed to a decent trot to cross the road and onto a dirt road and out on the "road loop." Why did Tanna slow down to cross the pavement when I had such a hard time rating him off pavement? Because we condition beside pavement. A lot. And that conditioning requires stretches of road trotting and crossing the road. He knows to slow down on pavement. Thank goodness for training or we might have gone splat on that pavement!

The road loop blurred by. I was able to ask Tanna for a walk and he would walk. A canter and he would canter. A trot and he would trot. I just had a hard time picking the speed at a trot.

We came energetically into camp. I slid off Tanna to walk him in. And almost fell. My legs were jelly. It took awhile to feel more steady on my legs. I went to our vet check area and there were Joe and Tamra. Oops. I'd come in too fast! I rather already knew that. Fortunately, there was room for me and Tanna right next to the tent, so I shoved some feed at Tanna and rushed around pulling his tack. He was already close to pulse criteria before I got a chance to pull his tack. Joe very sweetly held Tanna, reminded me to breath and went with me to the vet and even trotted Tanna out for me. So glad he did the trot out. I think I'd have face-planted.

Tanna got all As and looked fantastic at the vet in. Back at our vet area, Tanna ate his grain, nibbled at hay, and then stood around waiting to go back out. The holds were 50 minutes long. I had Tanna saddled and we were waiting at the out timer at our out time. We rarely do that. I'm usually late for my out times.

Off we went on our second loop. This was a repeat of the first 15 miles of the first loop. This time, Tanna was easier to rate. He was still full of energy, but since he was under control, I allowed him to canter more of this loop when he wanted to. His gait was still predominantly a trot. Tanna snatched bites of grass between trotting sessions and drank. I gave him electrolytes from the saddle. It was a very nice loop at a good clip with Tanna taking care of himself and behaving quite well.

As we approached the vet check, I contemplated my options. I could go around the lake. Or through the lake. I had determined that I was not going to go through the lake. The lake was deep. And Tanna is short. At the last minute, I decided a nice rinse was in order. So I turned Tanna down the bank toward the water. Tanna obediently bent down and drank. And then tried to back up the embankment. I urged him forward, so he went into the water and tried to turn around to get back out. I urged him forward. So he went across the lake. The water came halfway up his hindquarters. He was almost to the point of swimming. He never panicked, just headed straight across the water, up the other side and along to the vet check. The in-timer told me I was in 9th place. I groaned. I did NOT want to know that. I didn't want the knowledge to change how I would ride my ride.

Tanna's pulse was below criteria before I got him back to our vet check area. I quickly pulled tack and took him to the vet. He still looked great and got mostly As on his second vet check. A couple of A minuses. Back to our area and Tanna ate and drank and then rested for a few minutes. Again, I saddled him up and was waiting at the out timer for our out time.

Our last loop was the road loop. I set my mp3 player to play my energetic running music playlist to keep the energy up and off we went. Tanna offered to do his 100-mile jog. I declined and asked for a faster working trot of 8 mph. Tanna agreed and off we went. My main goal was still to get done with the ride and out of the sun as quickly as possible without hurting my horse. I paid close attention to Tanna's attitude, gait and heart rate. All signs looked good, so we continued on the road loop by ourselves. We caught up with a horse and rider team walking. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked Tanna to keep going which he did.

As we crossed the paved road about 3/4 mile before the finish line, Tanna asked to canter beside the road. I allowed it and gauged his level of energy. Tanna was energetic, back on his hindquarters and moving well, so I allowed him to canter until we reached the dirt road again. We trotted for a good bit and Tanna asked to canter again. I allowed it and we cantered across the finish line! I pulled up and headed back to the timer. So proud of Tanna! He side-stepped and wanted to keep moving. After I got my vet card and stuffed it back into my saddle pack, we headed toward camp at a brisk trot.

I met Daniel and Joe heading to the finish line, but I was faster than I had thought we'd be as Tanna was responding so well we didn't slow down a lot on that last loop. I grinned big at them and when I reached the big water trough, I slid off to walk the rest of the way in with Daniel and Joe.

Again, Tanna was down by the time we got him to our vet check area and we pulled his tack and walked over to vet him in. Tanna got all As on his vet card for his completion in…7th place!!!!! Our first REAL top ten. We have top tenned before, but the top tens have come because we completed a ride with 10 or fewer finishers. This was Tanna's first real, honest, top ten. And he looked fantastic. And I was super happy I had not ridden for top ten at all. I'd ridden my ride on the horse I had that day and we came in 7th out of 34 horses.

We did stand for BC and even though Tanna still looked good, he did not win BC (no surprise due to weight differences). He did get really good scores on his BC exam and I was super proud of him!

Oh, and the chihuahua that Snap almost stepped on? We managed to weasel her away from her owners and brought her home to join our pack. Look for Y-lee to exude cuteness at a SE ride near you.

A very good ride all the way around. Could not have had a better weekend! :-)