King. Again.

The chiropractor looked at King on Friday. He said his SI joint was out a bit on both sides, and all four ankles. But nothing radical. Just the same as it always is. He adjusted him. He figured that King could do the 30 CTR.

I went ahead, figuring that if we got pulled, at least Kathy would be there to take blood samples. I had a look and saw that there was an open time slot with Denise and her pretty little grey mare, Mecca. King loves mares, so I thought that might work out okay. And sure enough, King and Mecca fell in love. Denise was very happy with how her mare went along with King, she was happy to go behind at the start and very relaxed (for her). They paced nicely together. Though of course King wanted to canter a bit more than we should have for a CTR, which makes for a bit of unevenness in the speed. But still, he went beautifully.

It was 34 miles. Two times around the blue 17 mile loop. On that first loop, the two front running 75 milers passed us. Valerie Kanavy (I think on Spectacular Gold?), and John Crandell on Heraldic. Denise and I were joking about it. Now we can say that we’ve had the honour of being passed by Heraldic. Denise tried to explain to Mecca that she was in exalted company. But Mecca just wanted to chase them down (so did King actually).

Coming in on our half mile trot in at the mid check, I felt a tiny bobble from King when we went through a bit of softer footing. I asked Denise if she could see anything but she said he looked fine behind. And he felt fine for the rest of the trot. We got in, and he looked okay at first. We walked over to the vets, keeping the two horses together. I waited while Mecca was vetted, then took King in. I had Brooke trot him while I watched. I could see a faint bobble every couple of strides or so. Looked over at Sue (our judge) and sighed. She asked if I’d seen it. Oh yeah. I said a bad word. We called Kathy over and had her watch. This time, King was easily grade III lame. Obvious and fairly extreme. When Kathy palpated, she found tenderness in the right hind hamstring muscles. But then it shifted to the left side. And after a few minutes he had that leg waving in the air. After an hour or so he stopped favouring it. And in another two hours or so he was basically sound again. Not perfectly, but probably back to grade I.

Kathy took a blood sample within five minutes of being pulled. And then another one about four hours later. She does not believe he has an injury. Says it’s definitely muscle. So it really does look like a metabolic issue of some sort. Not tying up. But some sort of electrolyte or mineral imbalance. We are looking hard at selenium at this point.

I was supposed to stay to sponsor the girls in the ride n tie today, but elected to bring King home instead. I didn’t want him standing around in a pen all day stiffening up. So we got home last night at around 10:30. He looked good coming off the trailer, and is a cheerful mood galloping around the pasture this morning.

Just to top off my day though, it looks like my truck dumped some fluid in the driveway after we pulled in. Not sure if it’s power steering fluid or transmission fluid… or I guess brake fluid is possible too. It starts, and runs, and drives (though I only moved it far enough to get it unhooked from the trailer so it wasn’t much of a test). I will have to check all the levels and see if I can figure it out.

Set Speed Ride

On Saturday, we entered Dressy and Brooke in the 25 mile Set Speed Ride. I rode Deb’s horse, Shorty (Short Circuit). He’s a 16.2hh Standardbred/Arab cross. He’s five years old, and Deb raised him herself. What a big sweetheart he is. He looks like a big clunker, but doesn’t ride that way at all. He has a big easy stride that’s very deceptive. He uses no effort to jog along but when you look at a GPS he’s really moving. He can easily truck along at 10-12 mph without you even realizing it. And he has a lovely soft canter… really amazingly soft for a horse with Standardbred blood. He did test me a couple of times with some baby bucks. Deb warned me about that beforehand though, so it was not a problem. I got after him and he stopped right away. They seem to be just a bit of gleeful entertainment than any sort of malice anyway, so he’s not overly determined about it.

Deb rode Jingles, who is her young horse. It was only his second competition, and he was a star. Trotted right along without any fuss. This is another of her Manitoulin horses. Apparently there’s a big herd of them up there on the island, mostly rather feral. They have no real idea what the breeding is on any of them, as that’s not too carefully controlled. But Jingles is supposedly sired by Flash (Deb’s other horse), when Flash was just a baby himself. Jingles looks like he’s at least part Arab anyway, as does Flash.

Dressy was not such a star in her pre-ride vet check. After doing an atrocious trot out for Brooke (towing her hither and yon at a broken pace) and being rude and pushy generally, the big cow kicked me in the upper right thigh as I tried to write her number on her hip with the grease marker. I was very close, so she didn’t get much power into it luckily. I have a bruise, but not much pain. Not near so much as the pain above my left knee where Winchester kicked me on Friday at work (that one swelled up and hurt all weekend… bad enough that it woke me up a few times on Friday and Saturday night).

However, once we got her out on trail, she reverted back to her normally lovely self. Brooke did need some reminders to keep Dressy off the other horses tails. She keeps forgetting that and it’s quite a serious hazard at any time, much less when the horses are all excited at a competition and don’t know each other. So we will have to work on that.

The 25 mile trail was actually the white loop done three times. Which was a lovely trail. But by the third time around I was ready to slit my own throat. Especially in that heat. The horses were not keen either, and this is where Dressy showed her value. We put her out in front, and she went trotting on as always. She has a great work ethic. She trotted along a ten miles an hour, just like a metronome. Perked the other two up and got them going again. Dressy just stays in that nice steady trot up hills, down hills, around corners, over logs, past rocks…. oh wait… maybe not past rocks. She does have some spook in her 🙂

All three horses completed with no issues other than being very hot. We had to cool the two big dark horses fairly aggressively and give Dressy some extra electrolytes to get her heart rate under control at the first check. But that’s pretty normal for her. Shorty was obviously very fit, but he got really scary hot at one point (due to his size, colour, and winter coat leftovers most likely). But once we cooled him down at the water trough he was okay again. Jingles stayed reasonably cool and definitely handled the heat better. He’s a grey which helps, and looks more like an Arab so probably has that metabolism.

It was a graded Set Speed ride, but none of our three made a grade. Just got completions. The heart rates were fine, but we went too slow to score well. Almost everyone else was the same though. I think only 2 or 3 horses actually made a grade. It was just too hot too go faster. It was a good ride. No disasters, nice horses, and the trilliums were gorgeous.

Diego is Now a Real Endurance Horse

Diego is now officially an endurance horse. He finished his first 50 on Saturday. I think Misha is pretty emotional about it. He looked very good afterwards and Misha said that she had lots of horse all day. He looked very good when I saw him an hour or two after the finish.

They went very slowly, even slower than Misha wanted to go, because she elected to ride with two other riders. They started out at the same speed, the other two horses started having trouble with the heat, and Misha stayed back with them as they slowed down. It was a brutal day, due to the high humidity. It was the hottest day so far this year, so no one… horses or people…. were used to it yet. The actual temperature wasn’t nearly as high as mid-summer temps, but a lot of the horses still had some winter coat. Misha had a problem with it herself at one check, and had to have someone else vet Diego. I haven’t seen his vet card yet, but it sounds like he did well through all the checks. He’s a tough little horse.

Diego belonged to friends of mine who bought him at an auction a couple of years ago. The auctioneer swore that he was a Quarter Horse, which is ridiculous. He’s as Arab as can be. He was quite feral initially. My friends had him for about a year. They had some basic training put on him, and fed him up (he was pretty scrawny). Then found they had too many horses and passed him along to me. I gave him to Misha last year and she’s been working very hard with him ever since. He’s come a long way in a couple of years. And he looks like a different horse. He’s developed a topline, become more confident, learned manners (mostly) and has fitted up amazingly well.

I’m very proud of them both. Congratulations!!!!

Spring Ride

King, Dressy, and Diego are all set up in their quarters at the ride. I shipped them over yesterday, and left them in Misha’s care for the night. Then came home so I could go to work this morning. Brooke is meeting me here at around noon and we’ll head back over. It’s about an hour and a half to the east, so all this back and forth with the truck in the past week has cost a fortune in gas (the truck has a 7.5L gas engine).

Dressy was being quite an arrogant bitch yesterday. I hope she’s settled down. She knows when she’s at a competition (they all know), and can get a bit attitudinal. She dragged Misha around willy-nilly while I was trying to get her paddock set up. Smashed into her once. Misha finally stuck her in the half built, unelectrified paddock to get rid of her and just grazed King (who was mild-mannered and amiable with grass to eat). Dressy stomped over to her fresh bucket of water (laboriously obtained from Bob’s barn and trucked over to the field) and dumped it. I had to leave, but I told Misha not to give her another bucket for an hour or two. When the mare is in that kind of a mood, she’ll just keep dumping buckets so there’s no point. She’ll be much happier this afternoon when Brooke comes to fawn over her.

The chiropractor is supposed to come to the ride site this afternoon, and King is booked for an appointment. Rob came over to help me with the electric fencer, and noticed King… “Who is that horse?” I told him it was King of course (thinking that non-horsey Rob was just being dense). But he said that he looked different… “thin!” Oh BLESS Rob. He actually noticed King’s newly svelte self. He’s the only one who has so far this spring.

If all goes well, Dressy will be in the 25 mile Set Speed ride on Saturday with Brooke, and King will do the 34 mile CTR on Sunday. I will ride with Brooke on Saturday on Deb’s horse Shorty. He’s a Standardbred/Arab cross, and seems like a good boy. Set Speed is sort of like LD in the US. But uses a formula that combines speed and final pulse for a placing or grade. Thus the fastest horse doesn’t necessarily win. Competitive Trail (CTR) is more like a rally. The time is set so that horses have to travel at an average of 6 mph which includes a mid vet check stop (clock does not stop for checks). Metabolics and trail/tack lesions are also scored. The CTR we have in Ontario is not like NATRC though. We don’t do any trail manners or obstacles. It’s strictly based on time and vet check results.

What To Do With King

King has been going really well for the last week. I’ve had him on Perfect Prep (magnesium and BCAAs), a stronger dose of Vitamin E/Selenium, and DMG.

The Perfect Prep is supposed to calm horses, and it may be working with him. I’m not convinced yet, at least not until we get through an actual competition with an intact brain, but he does seem to be a whole lot steadier since he’s been getting it. It’s also supposed to help with muscle spasms in some cases. Vitamin E and selenium are primarily antioxidants. King’s blood work came back showing that he was at the low end of the normal range for selenium. Endurance horses do need a bit more selenium than other horses, so I increased the dose to the maximum. DMG is dimethylglycine, which is just a derivative of the amino acid, glycine. It occurs naturally in some foods. There is a fair bit of anecdotal evidence that it helps with muscle issues. But no hard proof. He’s been on that for quite a while.

I gave him four 2-oz doses of Perform n Win for our 17 mile ride yesterday. I don’t normally give him electrolytes on training rides unless it’s really hot. And although I’ve always given him some electrolytes in competition, I’ve never given him a lot. Usually just 2-4 ounces per vet check. I am going to try giving him considerably more to see if that has any effect on this muscle cramping issue.

Anyway, yesterday’s ride was quite successful. He was a little snorty going out, but he hadn’t had his magnesium the day before, and only got it a few minutes before we went out. He was quite good after the first couple of miles though. He did a lot of cantering, and kept his brain well. He did have company of course. A mare… and she let him stay in front the whole way. That made him very happy.

He felt very strong for the whole loop, always volunteering to go forward, and nearly dropped me spooking at something along the road right at the end, so he sure wasn’t tired. He had no muscle cramps afterwards, and when David trotted him out for me, he looked perfectly sound.

Now I’m trying to figure out what to do next with him, and when. He is extremely fit. Easily the fittest he’s ever been. He’s lost even more weight, and looks much more toned. I wasn’t planning on riding him at Spring Ride, but now I’m waffling like crazy. On Saturday, I’m riding Deb’s horse Shorty in the 25 mile Set Speed ride with Deb and her new horse and Brooke on Dressy. Which is perfect… I want to ride with Brooke and Dressy to sponsor them this year. But I don’t want to risk getting pulled and having to find someone else to sponsor them mid-ride, or have them fail to finish because of me. But Sunday, I could ride King in the 34 mile CTR. I just can’t decide whether I will or not. I’m going to have the chiropractor look at him on Friday at the ride site I think. He has tripped a few times on the left hind (knuckling over apparently). So there may still be a subtle issue there.

If we don’t do anything at Spring Ride, then probably it will be Summer Solstice next. Stormont is quite a flat ride and should be relatively easy for him. But Misha isn’t taking Diego (to share costs), and it’s five hours from here. So it would cost me a lot in gas. And I don’t think I want to try a fifty for a while yet. So it would be a long drive just to do a 25 mileage ride.

Video of the Spring Ride Trail

Here is the video of the trail at Spring Ride in the Ganaraska Forest. This is on the 25 mile loop (orange ribbons). This clip is from the pond (which is a few miles into the loop), and has been edited down to about 10 minutes from the original 20 minute clip. Nothing particularly exciting happens. But it’s fairly typical of the footing and trail conditions of that entire loop.

Smoking Straw

We had a few minutes of alarm today at work. Yesterday we had hay and straw delivered. The driver stacked the hay for us in the hay shed. We get the large squares, so they have to be moved with a tractor. We needed a few bales in the barn, but when I brought in the second bale, I noticed that there was dust drifting off the straw bale that I had in the tines. Hmmm…. So I got off and had a closer look. As soon as I shifted some of the loose straw off the top, not dust, but smoke came billowing out of the bale. It was soggy wet. Obviously it had been sitting under the edge of a roof or overhang of some sort and getting all the runoff. And now the thing was fermenting madly. I backed the tractor out of the barn and dumped the bale outside. Then went and sorted through the other bales that had been delivered. Six straw and six hay. One of the hay bales and one of the straw bales were actually smoking. One more straw was wet and hot, but not yet smoking. And another straw bale was just wet.

Linda was furious. And the boss was pretty mad too when I talked to him on the phone, and he NEVER gets mad. Glad I don’t have to answer the phone at the suppliers’ today… Especially if Linda takes it into her head to call them!

More Trail Inspection

Yesterday I rode King to inspect the 25 mile loop. We actually only did 17 miles, since we were able to skip some sections of trail that I’d already ridden. David rode with me today on Allieena. She looked good after her downhill somersault the other day. Doesn’t appear to be lame or sore at all. Tough little horse.

It was a very uneventful ride, thank goodness. Other than King trying to spook me off once or twice. There are trilliums coming up all over the place, and the forest is beginning to leaf out a little bit.  There were a few sprinkles of rain throughout the day. But right at the end, just as we were coming down the road to Bob’s place, it really started to rain. So we were glad to be nearly done at that point.

Here’s the GPS track:

I found the trail to be very fast. There were a lot of long sections with really good footing and mostly long, flatter grades (not easy necessarily because they go on a long way, but not steep). King seemed to want to gallop much of it, and I suspect that the faster endurance horses are going to really smoke this trail. The footing is almost entirely sand, and with all the rain it is quite packed. There are a few gravelly sections but most are on short little hills and last only a fifty or a hundred feet. As long as you didn’t want to go really screaming fast, I’d think you could do this loop barefoot or just in front boots/shoes if you wanted. Same goes for the 17 mile loop. Dressy was barefoot on that, and just had to slow down for a few of the gravelly hills. The 9 mile loop has more gravel and would be a bit slower.

I have a helmet cam video clip of some of the trail, but it’s taking forever to upload to YouTube. So I’ll put it up around lunch time when I come home from work.

Miscellaneous Update

The weather was kind of awful today. Rainy all day and kind of cold. So Chrystal and I were both less than enthusiastic about another day of riding in the rain. My fingers were wrinkled up for hours after riding in wet gloves all day. And peeling off wet (not to mention shredded) riding breeches… ugh. So we skipped today, and I’m going over tomorrow instead to ride the 25 mile loop. Which will just leave the 9 mile loop to do.

So far, three out of our four broodmares at work are confirmed in foal. Loula (Winchester’s mama) is in foal to Old Forester. Bernice (William and Al’s mama) to Vibank, Dora to Strut the Stage. Exclusive (mama of Esmerelda, Oliver, Paris, etc.)  has also been bred to Strut the Stage, but she’s not yet confirmed. Loula and Dora came home yesterday and both are looking good. Bernice and Exclusive are still away… with their babies. I can’t wait to get our little perfect princess, Esmerelda, home again. She’s amazingly smart and very athletic. Al is also very handsome and athletic, but he’s a boy… and quite a little shark-face. Bite, bite, BITE… all the time.

Monster and William are still looking good after their gelding. Although some swelling has come up, they still seem pretty comfortable.

Parker Raced Yesterday

Here’s a video of Parker’s (Danish Spirit) race yesterday.  He ended up 4th, so he did manage to bring home a small pay cheque anyway. Everyone was quite happy with him. He went over to the paddock calmly, and went into the gate well. He can be a bit excitable, and last time out he was scratched due to a gate incident (got himself tangled up after being loaded and had a few superficial cuts). So there was a bit of worry that he’d remember that. But he was good.

Parker is Reno’s eldest brother. Out of Freckles (Fresh Believer), the mare we lost after Reno was born, and by Alphabet Soup. He’s a bright, flashy chestnut with a wide freckly blaze and big, kind eyes. Quite a sweet horse, even when racing fit. Like his mama was.