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Friday, July 21, 2017

Retiring Tanna

It's been many months since I blogged on my endurance blog. There's a good reason for that. I haven't been doing much endurance riding.

2017 Endurance Rides So Far


I managed to make it to Biltmore in early May 2017. I entered Sasha in the 50. She was doing amazing, but I missed a short stretch of trail in the middle of the second loop.

The rules allow for missed trail to be made up to be able to still get completion miles (but not top 10 or points). In my opinion, the best way to make up the trail was to go back to the point where I missed trail, do the 2 miles I missed, and then return to camp. But I wasn't about to go do that as it would have been about 12 miles in total to go get the actual trail I missed.

I could possibly have talked to ride management to come up with another solution to allow me to make up 2 miles without the extra 10 to get to the actual trail I missed. However, Biltmore is an incredibly popular ride. This was the first of 2 days of rides. So ride management was dealing with all the competitors on trail, as well as checking in and vetting in all the Saturday competitors. This means ride management was taking care of some 300 horse and rider teams!

Missing trail was entirely my fault (the trail was marked, I just missed it) and I didn't feel that it warranted putting something else onto ride management to figure out how to make it so I could complete. I bring this up so that other competitors that read this might think about whether it's worth bringing an issue to busy ride management. Not that RMs don't want to hear from me, but since it was my fault and not an emergency, I decided it wasn't worth their time.

So I did a rider option pull. Sasha was perfectly ok and got 30+ miles of great conditioning on her. No sign of tie up or any other issues.

My other ride was Powwow Summer Slam. This was a hot and sweaty ride and wasn't all roses. After our completion, Sasha was sore and off as well as had harder time expelling heat after the ride. She was ok, but I wasn't happy with the 36 hours post ride. I definitely reached with her on that one.

Back to Tanna


Tanna had a rough 2016. He started off in January/February with 2 abscesses in 2 different feet. One popped up just as the first one was healing. So his spring conditioning didn't go well.

Tanna at the 2016 Alabama Yellowhammer ride.
Photo by: Unbridled Imagery


We did a 25 mile ride at the March Yellowhammer ride and Tanna was full of himself and ready to go! He was such a maniac, we went out and ran a 4 mile trail after his 25 mile completion; just to take the edge off! He was frustrating, but so much fun and he loved every minute on trail.

By the time Biltmore 2016 rolled around in early May, I decided he was ready for a 50, so we entered the 50. We started the ride with Tanna's best endurance buddy, Kit. These two horses have had so many miles together. They did their first 50 together at the one-time Rendezvous with Destiny ride in 2005. Right from the beginning, these two were buddies and fed off each other's energy and personality. Over the years, usually Kit's rider and I were able to manage their craziness when they were together.

Tanna flying at Biltmore 2016
Photo by: Becky Pearman


But Biltmore 2016 was unusual. Tanna and Kit were so crazy and almost run-aways. For 35+ miles. Finally, I had to separate for the final loop. Unfortunately, damage had already been done. Tanna had some very intermittent off steps during the final loop. I thought we could get through it, but ended up pulled at the finish for right front lameness.

Summer of 2016 was a lazy summer for Tanna. Mostly rehabbing his right front ankle. He had a few vet appointments, some stall rest, gradual pasture turnout and then short (< 3 mile) rides. Tanna had fun. He enjoyed the rides, but also enjoyed being turned out on pasture.

October 8 was a very bad day. I went out to feed and do horse chores. Serts and Sasha came up immediately. Tanna did not. Short story, he had laid open his right front knee. You can read my previous blog post for more info on that. That post ended with surgery in late December.

Tanna was on stall rest for many weeks after surgery. During the week or two after the surgery, we had his EPM titer levels checked and went ahead and treated him with Protazil. Tanna seemed to get better, but still not as good as we'd like. So 2 months later, we treated him with Marquis, with no discernible improvement.

By this time, Tanna was out of his cast. His knee was healing beautifully, with each weekly vet visit revealing new progress. After the major setback in December, there were no more issues with his knee. We took it very slow and it was 13 or 14 weeks after surgery before he was finally allowed to go around without a bandage.

The knee healed. PT began. 3-4 times a week, I would take Tanna through exercises to help build up his rear end and his knee. He was also allowed more and more space until he was out on 2 acres of pasture for several hours a day. The EPM damage made him fairly unstable in his hindquarters, so we were hoping that PT would retrain his nervous system and his muscles. The PT was a good thing, if time-consuming and frustrating for both Tanna and me. Tanna got stronger. But the kicker was: he wasn't getting better.

That was the most frustrating for me. The time and effort would have been worth it, but I saw no benefit besides strength. Tanna still couldn't hold his right hind leg off the ground long enough to be properly trimmed or even pick out his hoof. He still couldn't stand still, constantly stepping out to the side to catch himself when his hindquarters would lean to the right until it was step out or fall. He still couldn't walk or trot straight. There was just no improvement to the neurological symptoms.

So finally, I took Tanna back to the vet. We decided to do a spinal tap. That test came back negative. Tanna did not have an active EPM outbreak.

So. I'm left with Tanna. As he is. For now. Maybe I could take him to a vet school and have them poke and prod and test and run up even more vet bills. Maybe, just maybe, I could get him better. But probably not. Most likely not. Almost assuredly not.

Serts (28, left) and Tanna (23) out on pasture.


So I've retired my heart horse. To live out the rest of his days on pasture. With his best friend of the last 16 years. I will watch him, take care of him, love him. And treasure every last day I have with him until the time comes to let him go.

Because I'm a data junky. Here are Tanna's stats.

14 seasons starting in 2003
2665 endurance miles
285 limited distance miles
60 completions (90% completion rate)
2 100-mile completions (1 pull)
Countless training miles and hours

While I didn't get a completion for Tanna's last endurance ride, Tanna doesn't know that and he had a blast at his last competition. He gave his all at the first ride, the last and all the ones in between. What a horse.

1 comment:

Jessica Willis said...

What a great run you two had, and this won't be the end of your story for sure. I admire your spirit and hope my partner and I can have as successful a partnership as you and your Tanna!