Here is a link to photos that Bill Wingle took of the ride. http://www.nearbytrails.com/
He was taking them while he was riding. I'm in a bunch of them, but that's because I was riding right behind him! I bet he wished I hadn't been.. LOL
Saturday Morning was cool and crisp. I dressed in layers which I shed fairly quickly. I wanted to be the last horse out and just follow along. However, "best laid plans oft go".. well, you know the rest. Somehow, the person who told me she was going to go "slow" was known to be one of the "fast riders". I didn't know that. I fell in behind her and we started off.
You go down a residential street and cut across a yard to get to the trail. The trail then goes into a huge culvert that ran under a 4 lane road. Remember, this is the start of the ride... I was praying that a loud semi wasn't going to thunder across right over our heads. It didn't happen, Buddy followed his new friend and all was OK.
The culvert opened up into a sand wash that we rode in for some time, a few miles at least. It was cool riding in the sand washes, especially when they were narrow and twisty/ turny. Like riding a twisty/ turny single track in the trees, except you have rocks to bump your knees on. Once we get past the sand wash it's climb up and down a couple of hills.. I mean climb straight up... on the way back we had a P&R at the top of one of those hills. We went into lot's of canyons and then the open had a trail up on the Mesa and on several ridges HIGH in the air.. you could see snow covered mountains in one direction and Ship Rock National Monument in another. It was just wonderful. When we got to the ridges they were Narrow.. I kept saying "oh Buddy don't trip and don't spook.. the last step is a LONG one".. it was a long way down to the bottom of those canyons.
I dropped back at the first P&R and I rode with Bill Wingle (and I'm having name problems) Syndi Scott <I think> and on and off with Susan Peters. All were very kind to let me tag along behind them. (with Buddy screaming his fool head off every time he couldn't see them) cringe.
There was lunch on trail which means they fix you a sandwich how you wanted it and more snack food and cookies than I could cram into my face. I gave my sandwich order as I was moving in a fast direction to the nearest ladies room.. < a bush behind a hill> and yes I did check for snakes.
Open was to ride 24 miles, but I think my GPS said it was 28. Lots of climbs and lots of sand washes if I remember correctly.
Ride Management was great with the water, for riders and horses, always asking if I needed a bottle of water, could they fill a water bottle? Could they hold my horse, etc.. We never went too long without seeing a water truck which had water for the riders and the horses. Buddy had to taste as many water buckets as he could find. I think his favorite ones were the gray ones from Ace hardware.
Buddy did fairly well with his "observations" P&R's not so much, he was really not relaxing and going into the zone. We squeaked through all of them without being held. I had to pass on the off side mount. I'm still wearing a wrist brace to protect my broken wrist.. yep the one the Dr. said, it's ok you can ride, just don't fall off on it. Now why would he say THAT about falling off? So I don't have a good grip because of how the brace is on my hand and my grip strength still sucks.. So I passed on the off side mount, lost a bunch of points but it was in not a good area for me to use the terrain. remember I'm 5'4" and Buddy is 16 hands if he is an inch. So better safe than sorry. The Vet judge checked Metabolics frequently, and Buddy was doing well during the ride.
Did I mention that at the finish there is a Margaritaville? Real Margaritas.. I had a frozen strawberry one.. It even had good tequila in it! I was thinking I could be arrested for drinking and riding.. Did you know it's a bit difficult to dismount with a Margarita in one hand? Hell, I wasn't going to set that one down. I earned it!
We got back to camp and all is well, Buddy is eating, drinking, feeling good, no metabolic problems.. He's good to go for the next day.
We have a potluck with BBQ meat provided by ride management, a ride briefing and it's off to bed we go.
Sunday is mostly the same trail, just a bit shorter. I'm wanting to go slower than the others, so I drop back and ride quite a bit of the ride by myself. Buddy doesn't have too much of a upset. He calls for awhile then settles down and goes to work getting down the trail. Buddy is still passing the P&Rs, at the last one he gets a 12 and 4 because he finally relaxes.. Silly horse, coulda done that all weekend..
So we get into camp, I'm feeling great about the ride, Buddy is strong to get back into camp, even spooking a bit at the houses we have to ride by. We get to the trailer, he starts to act funny, he isn't drinking or eating .. he usually takes a big drink and wants to eat. I take off his tack and by now I'm thinking ohhh noo.. he's gonna colic and yep he did, he coliced. Luckily the P&R chair was Dr. Joe Quintana who I had ridden under back in Region 6 on several occasions. I take Buddy over to him and ask if he can check him.. No gut sounds. He gets treated.. We get pulled. It wasn't a bad colic, but any colic can be frightening and life threatening. Luckily Dr. Quintana has a vet clinic in town and his associate lived at the top of the road. (how convenient).. We discussed what could be causing Buddy's recurrent colic when he is stressed, and Dr. Q gave some ideas, dehydration, tying up, or ulcers. He drew some blood and took a fecal sample and sent it off with his associate to be evaluated.
Long story short, the blood work wasn't indicative of dehydration or tying up. The fecal sample did show some occult blood (hidden blood). Dr. Q felt this was a symptom of a hind gut erosion, such as an ulcer or worm damage. He discussed treatment alternatives and suggested a product he has had good results with called Suceed. It's a feed additive that helps repair the lining of the gut. He felt if I started Buddy on this product he would heal and be OK for future rides. He encouraged me to run another fecal sample and to try him on the one day ride I had planned on doing in California the first part of May. He did tell me to increase his electrolytes which during the ride I most certainly will.
All Sunday afternoon I spent with Buddy and Dr. Q. Fluids were run, Buddy was tubed with Mineral oil and treated with pain killers. He finished the fluids about the time for awards, so I went to awards and clapped for everyone who got their awards. It felt good to sit down.
Buddy was better after awards were over, he started nibbling at hay , then started to get painful again when the pain killers wore off. He did poop and pee right before he started feeling bad again. I called Dr. Q's associate and she came, checked Buddy and gave him some additional pain meds. He was pretty stoned for awhile. Once I thought he was going to fall down on top of me.
I was on the "coliced horse watch". I sat outside under a moonlit sky and kicked myself around for several hours, all while watching for recurrences of colic symptoms.. Cristy Cumberworth came and sat with me, for several hours, until Midnight.. when we both decided to go to bed. Cristy had just gotten home from shooting photos for an weekend of eventing . I'm sure she was tired. Thank you Cristy for being so kind and not leaving alone on my "coliced horse watch", that was so kind of you.
I went to bed and set my alarm for every hour to 2 hours, Buddy was eating hay and drinking by midnight and I felt the danger had passed, but I wanted to make sure. It was a long night. But he did well, and was no worse for wear the next morning. Me- however, I was a wreck..I decided we would stay over an additional day to keep an eye on him and let him recuperate, before he had 3 days of being hauled. So we did. It was a good choice. More on my extra day in Farmington in the next blog.. this one is long enough!