Sunday, October 02, 2016

AHA Distance Nationals 2016 - The 100 That Wasn't

This year, the AHA Distance Nationals were held near Vinita, OK. The 100 mile championship was on Sunday, September 25, 2016. They traditionally hold an open division, meaning anybody can come and ride the 100, they just don't have to be qualified for the championship division. So this was my opportunity to ride Sasha in her first 100.

I picked her up in September 2014 and every training ride and every competition for the last two years was to get her ready for a 100 mile ride. To get her to this ride and through it to her first completion.

Loaded up to head to OK.

We loaded up early Thursday morning and 12 hours later, pulled into camp. We set up on the small ridge, putting Sasha on her high tie.


Daniel discovered our truck had a shot wheel bearing on the right front tire, so called a repair shop about that.

Friday morning, the repair shop showed up to get our truck. It was fixed by 1 PM and Daniel bummed a ride into town to pick it up.

Our truck loaded up to get repaired.

Meanwhile, I worked some, since I had a deadline looming at work. I also took Sasha for many walks throughout the day.

It was really hot, so I took advantage of the shade of the trailer and ran the generator to run a good fan on me and the dogs.

I spent a good amount of time pulling out all the stuff I would need for the vet checks and packing it carefully where I could find it. We had hoped we could spend our hold times at the trailer, but we were about 1/4 mile from the vet check area and decided that was too far.

I also pulled out Sasha's saddle, emptied the saddle pack and repacked that. I checked the saddle over for failure points. And made electrolytes.

Electrolyte syringes. One pre, one post, one for each vet check and one spare.

Sabbath I spent trying to rest as much as possible. I took Sasha for many walks throughout the day. It was still really hot, but the forecast promised rain and cooler temps for Sunday.

Watching riders on other events during one of our walks.

Saturday night, I impatiently waited for the 100 mile ride briefing. Then walked Sasha and the dogs and headed for bed for 5 hours of sleep before the alarm rang at 3:30 AM. Start at 5 AM.

I got ready as normal. We walked Sasha to the water trough to see if she'd drink before saddling her and then finished saddling. I was mounted 15 minutes before the start and did a normal warm up.

When 5 AM came and the trail was open, a couple riders went and then a couple more. Then I left by myself at a mild pace. Sasha was a bit confused as to whether we were going or not. She's used to the wild starts of our SE rides with 25-50 riders in a single distance. There were 8 riders entered in the 100.

About a mile out, I began to think Sasha was not right. She just wasn't moving right. Her steps were choppy and not fluid. She didn't want to really move out. She wasn't pulling at me anymore. I asked her to walk and she did without a fuss. This was a big red flag to me. Her heart rate didn't show too much of a concern. 85 at a walk.

I pulled out my Oregon GPS unit and looked at the maps of the trails I'd added to it. As I thought, we were just at the back of camp. I made the decision to go back and have the vets look at her.

I hopped off to lead Sasha and was again concerned when she didn't try to run past me or dance at the end of her lead rope. She's not horrible, but she can be quite animated and she just wasn't.

I walked up to the vets and told them I thought she was tying up. They checked her rump muscles, but nothing there. We pulled the saddle and immediately found her back muscles were very very hard and tight. Yep, tie up.

I ran and got her wool cooler from the vet check area. I discussed the situation with the vets and decided to have her treated with fluids. Poor Sasha could barely walk and I had to drag her a few feet to get to where they could hang the fluids.

Sasha getting fluids. She ate a good amount of hay while standing there.

Tying up, for my non-horse friends, is like having really severe muscle cramps for a very long time. The muscles get damaged and the debris has to be flushed from the body through the kidneys. This causes a strain on the kidneys. Providing fluids via IV allows the body to flush the debris easier.

The treatment vet ran 20 liters of fluids. About 2 hours after I noticed something was wrong, Sasha peed dark, like a hot chocolate color. The color is myoglobin being released in the urine, an indication of muscle damage. About 40 minutes later, she peed clear and has had normal colored urine ever since. To be safe, we ran another 10 liters through her.

Sasha did get a 1/2 dose of banamine with her IV.

After the fluids were done, it was time to get Sasha back to the trailer, 1/4 mile away. The first 100 feet was really painful, but she slowly loosened up and was able to walk slowly back to the trailer.

Throughout the rest of the day, I walked her every hour. By early afternoon, she was trying to trot a little at the end of the lead line and by dark she seemed very much herself, just moving a tad stiffly. I gave her a 3/4 dose of banamine with her supper to help keep her more comfortable overnight. I did walk her late at night and overnight as well.

Between walks, I worked (that pesky deadline) and packed up the trailer to go home.

In the morning, I gave her more banamine and loaded her on the trailer for the trip home.

Early out. We have a trailer cam to keep an eye on the horses. Very happy to have that.

We drove carefully and unloaded her once at a really nice safe spot we found at an exit. She was moving briskly and looking around. Her normal curious self.

Daniel walking Sasha while I got her some water and then walked the dogs.

At home, I caught Tanna and Serts and tied them to the trailer before unloading Sasha. She ran around the pasture by herself and rolled several times, happy to be home. I put the boys in a separate field until suppertime and then turned them all out together.

Blood work the next morning at my vet showed she still had muscle damage (duh). We'll check her again this week. Assuming her blood work is ok, we'll start her back on controlled exercise and a return to work with blood work along the way.

Sasha bright and chipper at the vet's 52 hours post-tie up. There was a cycling aide station set up across the street. Complete with cheerleaders with pompoms!

Cause? Unknown. There are definitely risk factors for tying up, but I didn't do much different on this ride than I've done at her other rides. We did travel further than normal. And she got an extra day of rest between trailering and riding. I broke her single meal up into 3 smaller meals throughout the day, but I've done that before. She was in heat, but she's been in heat for every single ride.

While we don't know for sure why she tied up, I am going to eliminate her Omolene 100 from her meals the days before a ride. She will still get it at the vet checks mixed into her mash, but she'll get Purina SR in her mashes leading up to the ride. I didn't feed her grain right before the start. She got her last meal at 6 or 7 PM the night before the 5 AM start and had good alfalfa/orchard hay (her normal) in front of her all night.

I also am toying with the idea of riding her the day before rides. I'm not convinced of this one, though. We'll see. I would say I'd run with her, but my runs the day before a ride are usually way longer than I'd want her out.

It was super scary to see Sasha so stiff and sore. But the good news is we caught it early, treated it quickly and there should be no lasting damage. The blood work shows her kidneys are fine. I would like a black and white reason of what happened so I can fix it, but unfortunately, that's not the way endurance works sometimes.

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