Diego and Ares both went to Aprilfest this past weekend. I rode Diego on Saturday. He was terrific. I really feel like we must have made some progress over the last six months of training. He loaded on the trailer politely, stood well for the vets, was steady on the trail, and stayed in his electric paddock without pulling out any posts with his teeth (yes, he really does do that when he’s upset).
We did the 12 mile ride with Emily and Sue. Emily’s Quarter Horse, Duke, is a sensible, quiet sort of guy, and Sue’s Arab, Clay, is 18 and an old pro. So that was great for Diego. He was calm and steady on trail. We went quite slowly and worked on good trail manners. There were no spooks. He did look hard at a few things (an old washing machine by the trail, an odd shaped stump). But all he did was look as he went by.
The trail was sandy and it was surprisingly deep in some places. Diego was tired by the end, and he did have one quite bad stumble. He has very flat movement, and that daisy cutter action gets flatter and he tends to drag his rear toes as he gets a little tired.
Emily and Duke looked great. At one point, when they were out ahead, I had to ask her to slow down. Diego has had no serious conditioning for over a year. So my plan was really just a walk/trot easy ride. Emily is used to being left in Dressy’s smoke trail so she’s always worried about holding things up. She said later that the best part of her day was being told to slow down! LOL!
Ana did the ride n tie with Emily on Duke after the 12 miler was finished. Emily, who had a respiratory virus and looked like she needed a very long nap, rode almost the entire 6 miles. Anastasija ran her little heart out. They ended up in 5th place, but were only 6 minutes behind the winners. There were ten teams entered, which is amazing. I haven’t seen that many entries in a ride n tie in years. [Kudos to both the Ride n Tie Chair, Phyllis, and the OCTRA publicity/promotion team run by Linda K who have all been talking up Ride n Tie for the last year or so!]
Duke had a bit of tightness in his hindquarters at the end. The sand really was deep, and with those big QH muscles it was no surprise. But he passed the vetting and looked quite cheerful.
I had planned to do another 12 on Sunday. But in the morning I checked Diego’s legs and thought I felt filling. I hate those moments. My brain zaps around in ten directions (No, maybe not. Yes… that could even be heat. No, don’t be silly. Oh for crying out loud. Get the vets to look at him. Oh man, Ana and Ares will have to go out alone and Ares is going to be off his rocker and go too fast. Just go to the damn vet!)
So I had the vet check him. They didn’t see anything and he trotted sound, so I went back and tacked up. But I checked his legs again. And again. And again. And I obsessed. And then finally went back again and asked the vet to look at him one more time. And this time, they checked a bit more carefully and found that he was flinching at pressure on the suspensories in both front legs. So that’s why he didn’t look lame… he was equally sore in both fronts. When trotted on a circle he had a slight head nod. Despite all the crazy voices in my head, I was actually quite relieved. You’ve got to trust your instincts.
He coped remarkably well with being separated from Ares. There was a bit of whinnying for the first few minutes, and I had to walk him for a while to remind him that he has dignity and needs to use it. But he soon enough settled down and took a long nap in his pen.
Ana went out with Emily and Duke. But Ares was rocketing along and Duke had some trouble keeping up. By the time they got to the mid-check, the muscle tightness was back and Duke was pulled. So Ana went out and did the second loop alone. Ares final pulse was a bit high at 51. But I rather expected that. He’s an excitable sort of guy. He just needs time and experience.
I went back to my camp after doing the scoring [Sue helped me with that, thank heavens… 43 entries in Saturday’s 12 miler!!!!], and having dinner/awards, to discover that my camp was organized, packed, and ready to go. Having good pit crew is just decadently wonderful. Veronica worked like a demon both days. And her husband Brian, who just came along to hang out, disappeared on Saturday and the next thing I knew, there he was at the timing desk, running things. Nancy told me that she just stood back in awe. He had everything in perfect order the entire weekend. She said “We need to KEEP him!”
Diego loaded very nicely to go home (in under a minute). Ares as well (of course). By the time Diego was back home Sunday evening, all the filling was gone and the legs were both cold and tight. I will keep a close eye on him for a few days. But I think he’s probably fine.
Oh and Jean, who was Head Pulse/Respiration tech in the vet check told me that she was impressed with Diego. She said he was a different horse. Which kind of made my day 🙂