Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hot Is As Hot Does

Hot. The GERA ride was HOT. And humid.

Daniel and I picked up Lillie on Wednesday on the way to the GERA Endurance Ride.

We got there and got parked and the horses settled. Then we sat around and sweated and chatted with the other riders arriving.

Lillie and Sasha after getting settled at camp.
Thursday, Lillie met another 10 year old, Aubrey, and they hung out whenever they could all weekend. Lillie and I set up our vet check, chatted with friends, got registered, chatted with friends, vetted the horses in, chatted with friends.

Tanna being a good endurance horse!
Lillie and Aubrey helping set up the vet check area.
Towing the water truck back to camp.
In the meantime, Daniel was out sweating and getting water for the entire ride. Usually the fire department delivers water to the camp and on trail, but they were unable to at the last minute. Sandy, the ride manager, was able to get some water delivered to camp from one friend and the loan of a large water truck from another. Daniel helped get the pump set up to pump water from the creek into the water truck and then took over running the truck. Unfortunately, right at ride meeting time, I got a call from Daniel to go get him. I left Lillie with Aubrey to listen to the ride meeting and I went to get Daniel.

Turns out the water truck had quit on him. Likely a broken axle. Daniel had me drive our truck and he drove the water truck and I pulled the water truck to just outside of camp where it would be out of the way and easy to get onto a tow truck.

Then, time to figure out how to get water for the next day. Fortunately, all the water troughs on trail were full and there was a good bit of water in camp. I asked Lillie to walk the dogs and the horses while Daniel and I powwowed with Sandy. Finally, it was decided to buy a big water tank.

Friday, Lillie and I started in the back. This was Lillie's first competition on Sasha and we wanted to be sure we could ride our ride and Lillie could control Sasha. Sasha is great, but wants to move out right away.

Lillie didn't want to get her feet wet. Image credit: UnbridledImagery.com 
The first loop went fairly well. It was warm and very, very humid. I was most worried about the river crossing, but Sasha went right in after Tanna. She even drank in the river. I wanted to sponge, but I also didn't want to give Sasha a chance to stop and decide she didn't like the river, so we pressed right on across. Right at the other side, it got a little deeper and Sasha began to lunge to get out. Fortunately, she got on the bank quickly and calmed immediately. No harm done. The first loop took us two hours and 15 minutes. I was very aware of the horses' heart rates and trying to keep their core temps down.

Sasha determined to get out of the water asap. Image credit: UnbridledImagery.com

Sasha drinking out of the river. Image credit: UnbridledImagery.com
Into the vet check, I was happy it only took us 10 minutes to get the horses stripped and cleaned up and over to the pulse box with just me and Lillie working since Daniel was out buying a water tank, filling it and delivering water. Tanna pulsed in at 52. Sasha at 60. Both horses got all As on their cards.

I did scare Dr. Otis when I hollered at Lillie for letting Sasha trot through the tight turn at the far end of the trot out. She knows better and I was very surprised she did it that way. We had a chat about it during the second loop. Trot out. Stop, turn around, square up, trot back. No trotting through a tight turn where the horse might slip and hurt something. She admitted she got distracted and she would do better in the future. Good girl.

The horse massage therapist, Kathy, came over and worked on Sasha during the hold, which allowed me to relax a little and focus on things other than making sure Sasha or Tanna didn't wander off. Both horses were eating pretty well, polishing off a good mash each (ok, Sasha ate half of Tanna's too) and enjoying the alfalfa hay. I had Lillie eat a bag of chips and some fig newtons. Which then I found out she didn't like the fig newtons at a vet check.

We were a little late on our out time for the second loop, but not too terribly bad. We just kept doing the same thing we did on the first loop. Walk up most hills. Canter only when it was flat AND shaded. Which means we didn't canter all that much. Trot the rest. When we were about 3 miles from camp, I realized we had only 55 minutes to make it to camp, get the horses pulsed down and presented. So we got to going. I repeatedly said aloud (to me, but good for Lillie to hear) to not get stupid these last 3 miles. If we were overtime, so be it, but laming up one of the horses or raising their core temp too much would be way worse than just coming in too late to get our completions.

We made it into the vet check at 12:05. We had 25 minutes to strip the horses, get their temp and heart rates down and over to the pulse takers. Sasha had heat just radiating off her and her pulse was in the 80s. I loosened her girth, so I wasn't able to monitor her while we walked to our vet area. Tanna was much cooler to the touch and his heart rate was 55 before I got the saddle pulled off.

Tanna and Sasha sharing the alfalfa hay at the vet check.
Lillie began unhooking everything on Sasha's saddle. She can't really pull it yet without dropping everything on the ground, so I try to grab the saddle. As I threw some water quickly on Tanna so I could move on to Sasha, Angie appeared out of nowhere and asked if she could help. I immediately accepted and asked her to pull Sasha's saddle. Next thing I know, Angie's jumping in to sponge Sasha to get that temp down. Sasha, of course, is looking for anything to eat. I'd forgotten to start her mash, so she was just slobbering on some newly wet beet pulp. I think I need to get Speedibeet or something for her. Or get better organized. I'm not used to a horse that sucks up a mash at a vet check.

We made it over to the pulse takers just 11 minutes after coming into camp. It would have taken several minutes longer without Angie's help. Tanna pulsed in at 48 and Sasha at 56. Both horses vetted out well, with As across the board for Sasha and just a B for Tanna on guts. Not surprising. That horse is usually a B on guts.

I monitored the horses during the rest of the afternoon, but other than just wanting to nap through the heat of the day rather than eat, they were great. Good gut sounds, low heart rates, bright eye. Good job all the way around.

I had considered elevating Tanna and me to the 50, but with the high heat and humidity, I decided to call it a day. I also was happy that I was the one monitoring Sasha during the afternoon. She was fine, but sometimes they'll pass their vet check and then that temp and heart rate just won't continue to drop without some more help.

Many kudos to the horse and rider teams at this ride. It was not an easy ride. 83% completion rate on Friday. A few treatments, but all horses ok.

Now I just need to figure out Lillie's electrolyte needs. She was ok, also, but she took awhile to recover after I had her help me clean up our vet check area. I gave her some of my electrolytes, but they didn't help her. So we'll find something that does. Maybe I could use that SERA blood machine to check HER electrolytes??

Thanks to Sandy and all the ride management team for this ride.