Today

There was much pathetic crying at work today. The foals were weaned last night. Twister is in with the three of them in the arena. Al and Esmerelda have been calling to their mothers. Reno is a bit confused by all the chaos (being an orphan already). But he’s is also a little indignant that the other two have been nudging at him to see if he might make a good surrogate milk bar. He thinks that’s very rude and has taken to kicking to defend his honour.

I rode King and Dressy both this afternoon. King was very energetic again today. That makes three days in a row. Which is a hopeful sign. It is likely that he will still have bad days even if the diet does work… at least until the full six months is up. But I’m very cautiously starting to think there might be some actual improvement happening. His muscles feel a bit less tight in his hindquarters too.

Dressy has had a few days off since Seoul’s Corners. Today we did 7 miles at a moderately slow pace. We are working on slow/steady trotting. In the hopes that we can find a gear she can maintain all day. She’s naturally very fast. But she cannot maintain that speed over long distances without blowing herself out.

Her back was sore on Monday. I used King’s aussie saddle at Seoul’s. It’s really not the right fit for her. I can use the Barefoot, but that also gives her some problems (pressure points from the stirrup hangers – she has permanent white hairs from them). So I think for now I’m going to have to resort to alternating saddles again. Until I can find something that does fit her correctly anyway.

I also need to do some work on her feet. I think she has some deep seated thrush still going on. She’s been a bit tender footed lately. And the right front has some raggedy, grungy looking bits. I treated her last week with White Lightning and it looks a little better. But I think maybe that’s why her heels have been growing so fast lately.

Dressy Beat the Heat

Got back from the Seoul’s Corners ride late last night. I left before the 75 and 100 mile horses finished. But I hear that Patti Stedman won the 75. Elaine Steele won the 100. Michelle Bignell and Allieena won the 50. Pat St. Jean and Black Bart’s Perfect won Best Condition. Ron Savard won High Vet Score.

Chrystal’s mare, Grace had a little mishap on a slippery bit of rock and fell just after the start of the fifty. Grace was a bit sore at first, then sorted herself out. But by the end of the second loop she was stiffening up a little, so they were pulled. She was well-behaved and reasonably steady and fast. So I think Chrystal was pleased with that at least, despite the bad luck.

Dressy was wonderful. We did the 25 miles. I had hoped that this ride would be cooler and more to Dressy’s taste. But that was not to be. The high was 27C, but the humidity averaged 83%, with a high of 100%. I had sweat running in my eyes even before I got on her for an 8am start. Luckily, the humidity went down a little bit on the second loop. Otherwise it would have been a lot tougher on Dressy.

She put on a bit of a show for the spectators before the start. We were waiting for Savanah (the junior who rode with me) to finish tacking up her arab, Merlin. Dressy was going around and around in circles, so I decided to trot her up towards the start and back. But she thought it would be better to thunder up there at a gallop. Then she thought it’d be great fun to crowhop back down again. All of this in front of spectators with cameras. Of course.  I growled at her and she stopped. She’s not generally bad, but the start is a very exciting time for her. She did settle though and managed to walk out fairly politely once we hooked up with our junior and went out on trail.

Although I was wilting (and by later in the ride… stupid) from the heat, Dressy was forward and alert for the entire first loop. Her first vet check was perfect. All A’s and a 10/10 CRI (cardiac recovery index). She didn’t even seem all that hot at that point. Just hungry and thirsty.

She went along very well for most of the second loop too. (If you look at the video, most of it was taken on the second loop, and you can see her perky ears.) Until I got lost. Though of course I didn’t know I was lost. Dressy sure did. She suddenly went flat and refused to trot. I thought the heat was getting to her. But no… her rider’s idiocy was getting to her. We walked for a while before I realized something was wrong. Then backtracked. And went past the elusive turn the other way. Walked some more (Dressy was NOT going to trot in the wrong direction – she’s no fool). I finally resorted to looking at my GPS and turning on the “Return to Home” function. That worked. Of course. Made the correct turn (the red turn ribbon had wrapped around the tree branch so I couldn’t see it), and Dressy miraculously recovered enough to want to gallop. She was very pleased to get to the water trough. Not nearly so pleased when I made her go back out of camp for the final five mile loop. I had to send Savanah ahead with Merlin. He trotted along, dragging a reluctant and increasingly hot Dressy to another water trough about 3 miles from the finish. I cooled her rather frantically and she did look a lot better after that. Then we turned back for camp and Dressy perked up a little. Still hot, but she was still willing to trot. And in the last mile, she was back to alternating trot and gallop. Good thing too… we crossed the finish line 2 minutes before the cutoff time.

Took the full 30 minutes to get her temperature and heart rate down. Chrystal and a very nice and very helpful boy whose name I cannot remember were a great help sponging Dressy. I was not all that functional by then. I think I drank about three iced teas out of my cooler without stopping. Then stood in a bit of a stupor for a while. Chrys said I looked way worse than my horse.

Her pulse was 16 (in 15 seconds… so 64 bpm which was the parameter she needed to meet) when I took her in. The vet (Stan) said her heart sounded nice and steady. When they are tired, their heart rate speeds up and slows down, so that was a good sign. Cap refill, etc were good. She had to come back for a gut sound check (so did Merlin… and quite a few other horses) as she was down in two quadrants. As soon as she ate though, she was completely fine. Merlin was also fine once he was rechecked.

This was Merlin and Savanah’s first 25 miler. He looked great all the way through. They had a little boot issue in the first mile and elected to go barefoot the rest of the way. It didn’t look to me as though he had any problem at all with the footing. He must have very good feet. Nice little horse. They both looked good at the end. Savanah should be very proud. Especially considering that they probably actually went 30+ miles due to their sponsor getting lost and leading them astray.

It was WAY too hot and humid. Given the conditions, I cannot believe Dressy did so well. She actually looked good at the end. Hot, but still bright-eyed and alert. Still spooking at things. Jumping around
when water went on her. Looking to eat other horses’ dinners. She ate three meals out at the first check (Grace’s, her own, and Harley’s). Ate two meals at the end. Plus a bunch of hay. Some carrots. A bucket
of water. More hay. Treats. The vaccuum that ate the world…

The drive home was fairly awful. It started raining shortly after I pulled onto the highway. It came and went all the way home. Sometimes quite torrential, which made driving difficult between the dark and the water on the road, and the stupid drivers who think nothing of cutting off vehicles with limited stopping power. I got home safely four hours later and unloaded a very bright-eyed and bouncing Dressy. Then did a relieved face plant in my bed.

Today’s Rides

I brought King in and checked him over. It was pretty obvious that it was going to be one of his bad days. His hind end was quite tight all over. Both sides. No actual cramping that I could see, but just generally hard muscles.

Tacked him up and went for a short ride. He needs to go out for a bit of exercise every day. But I’m letting him dictate the pace. Today was walking only, he told me. A couple of times I asked him to trot and he stopped dead when I suggested it. So okay. He walked. We did a very slow and boring one mile loop around the back field. But towards the end he agreed to trot for a short stretch. It was on the way home of course. But even then he had no energy. Just a little western pleasure jog.

After finishing up with King, I brought Dressy in and tacked her up. Whole different story there. Dressy is cheerful and glowing with good health. She seemed happy to go out, though a bit speedy. I managed to get her settled into a steady, relatively slow trot (slow for a Standardbred anyway!) after a few zigzaggy moments. She had good heart rates, and felt strong and forward but not crazy. That ride on Sunday seems to have sharpened her up quite well. All those years of racing really pay off, even now, in how fast she fits up.

I didn’t have a lot of time, since I had to get back to work to feed this evening. So I only rode her for 45 minutes. But we managed to do five and half miles.

I am praying for cool weather on Sunday. We are going to try to do the 25 at Seoul’s Corners this weekend. I’m also praying for no rain until Sunday. Dressy would be better off if it rained during the ride itself. But for once, I’m not going to wish for that. The fates seem to be against that ride. It always seems to rain either before or during weekend, which can make for boggy trails. It’s too bad, because the trails are quite beautiful around Sharbot Lake. It’s up in the Canadian Shield, and there is lots of rock and lakes everywhere.

 

Dressy At Summer’s End

Yesterday I took Dressy (and Diego as well) to Summer’s End Training Ride over in Bailieboro, Ontario, which is just on the edge of the Ganaraska Forest. It’s a very pretty area, with lots of hills.

In the morning we had the clinic portion. First Marg Murray and Marion Shearer gave an overview presentation of the different disciplines that OCTRA offers… Endurance, Competitive Trail, Ride n Tie, Set Speed, and Mileage rides. Each has slightly different rules, but the training is essentially the same for the horses. It’s the equivalent of human marathon training.  After Marg and Marion were finished, Dr Kathy Kivi talked about electrolytes and horse health.

Rose Danko gave an explanation of Set Speed rules. It’s a new discipline in OCTRA, and not well understood by most members. But basically it’s between 10 and 50 miles. A speed range is set, depending on competition level. Yesterday’s ride was between 4 and 7 mph. In a graded ride, the competitors are awarded grades depending on the combined score of pulse and speed. A low pulse and a high speed will give you the best grade. Grades are, from highest to lowest, 1, 2, 3, 4, or completion.

After Rose was done, I gave a quick demonstration of how to present your horse to the judges and what the horse health check is all about. I’m a lay judge when I’m not competing myself. Which means that I perform vet checks at competitions (under the supervision of the head veterinarian).

Finally, Julie Green gave a presentation on hoof care and booting. She’s an EasyCare distributor and her husband is a barefoot trimmer. There seemed to be lots of interest in the topic.

The weather was horribly hot. The temperature was 27 C, but humidity was 95%. It was just awful. Heat has always been a problem for Dressy, so that was not a good sign.

Dressy and I sponsored Solstice in the Ride n Tie. Her little mare was quite excited, so I ponied them out the first little bit of the loop until we got into the forest and she could tuck her in behind Dressy to keep her slowed down. She’s a cute little horse, but was a little bit boggled by all the excitement.

The little mare was not the only horse boggled… Diego threw a hissy fit when his boss mare left. I could hear Misha yelling at him as we disappeared into the trees. I heard later that his initial vet check was very out of control. Though I think he improved through the day.

Solstice and her dad won the ride n tie. The other team, Michelle and her daughter Cassandra, were right behind us. Dressy and I won a $10 Tim Horton’s gift certificate for sponsoring the winners, which was nice.

Dressy’s vet checks in the ride n tie were good. No problems. We went back out to do the 15 mile Set Speed ride shortly afterwards. We sponsored Laura, who was riding Sue Downing’s 19 year old Arab mare, Holly. (I just looked it up, and I think that Holly just got her 1000 miles yesterday!)

There were three 5 mile loops, with the option (since it was a training ride) to stop after any loop and take that mileage. Dressy did well on the first loop. Good heart rates. At the first check, she drank well and was absolutely starving. She vetted through fine. I tacked her back up (with some help from Julie – who was a big help to everyone at the checks) and led her over to let her drink and suddenly she started acting like she wanted to drop and roll. Immediately I had a total panic attack, thinking she must be colicky. Ripped the tack back off her and took her back over to the vet (jumping the line in the process). The vet checked her over, but couldn’t find anything wrong. She wasn’t trying to roll, and had gut sounds all around. The vet thought that maybe she’d had a bit of a gas bubble or something. So we tacked back up and went out again for our second 5 mile loop.

For the first couple of miles she seemed fine. Then I thought she seemed a little less forward. I checked her heart rate and found that it wasn’t registering on the watch. The monitor had shifted a bit under the girth and wasn’t reading. I reached down and tinkered with it and started getting some intermittent readings. None of them very good. Mostly up in the 140 to 160 range. They may or may not have been valid readings, but I was a bit worried. So I told Laura we needed to walk for a while. Eventually I got more reliable readings and she seemed to have dropped down to a more reasonable level. By the time we hit the end of that five miles, I thought that she might have stopped sweating, which really worried me. She felt extremely hot to the touch. So I figured we were probably done for the day.

At the check, she had a nice low pulse… 36. The judge noted that she was skipping heart beats, which is something she normally does, so of no concern. But she skipped for a bit longer than usual and several times during the 15 second count (she was trying to nap at the time). And when she trotted out for her CRI (cardiac recovery index), she woke up again. Second count was 14. Which is very very bad. The judge pointed out that it was just because she did not skip any beats on the second count, but Dressy has had enough 9/9 CRIs that I know there is no excuse for a 9/14. Her trot out was a bit wonky for a couple of steps, but the vet watched it on a second trot and decided that it was just a bit of toe-dragging and not a lameness. She got a completion. But probably only because I was not going on for another loop.  She was very hungry at that check too, and gobbled up every bit of food she could find. Drank well all day. Had lots of electrolytes.

I really think she was suffering from heat exhaustion. She has never done well when it was hot. And I think that the heat and humidity wiped her out. She was completely herself again within about half an hour. The vet checked her over once more and found nothing wrong. She had gut sounds all the way around all day. Came off the trailer at home looking good. Looks good today.

And, despite all the worry… she ended up taking a grade 1 in the 10 mile set speed ride. Her final pulse was 36 and average speed was 6mph. So by the numbers, she did really well.

I sent Laura back out for the third loop with Marg, and they did finish the 15 miles. Which gave Holly her long-awaited 1000 miles. Holly has been out of competition for a few years due to a very bad injury that Sue suffered. It was bad enough that she was told never to ride again, and so gave up riding Holly, who can be a bit of a handful (especially if there are cows in the vicinity!). Sue now rides the lovely and very quiet Foxy, who is one of my rehomed Standardbreds. This year, Holly has been ridden by a junior rider and has been creeping up on the 1000 mile mark. She sure was cheerful out on trail. You can tell that Holly just loves going down the trail. She looked like a five year old bouncing along out there.

Diego had an excellent day. He has no problems with heat. In fact he’s one of those crazy Arabs who gets cold if you put too much water on him. He did the 15 miles fast enough that he had to wait a while before the finish line so he didn’t get disqualified for finishing too fast. His final pulse was 40 and average speed was just under 7mph. So he got a grade 1 as well (in the 15 mile Set Speed).

Chrystal’s horse Grace finished her first ride too. She also got a grade 1 (Chrystal and Misha rode together… galloping like a pair of hooligans). Grace came off the Arab racetrack and her brain has been a bit of a problem. But Chrystal said she did well. No meltdowns. Of course that could be just because they went fast enough that brakes weren’t all that necessary 🙂

Doc and Phoenix

Here is a photo of Doc Watt with Phoenix (Garock) taken in 1999. Phoenix was Di Regendanz’s lovely old Arab gelding. He and Di competed in many OCTRA competitive trail rides and were extremely successful.  Phoenix passed away a few years ago at the age of 31. Doc Watt’s funeral was today. He was 81. He was Phoenix’s vet for most of the horse’s life (27 years).

Going Forward

King was quite forward today. As in snort-brained, bratty, want to gallop wildly forward. Sigh. He’s an all or nothing kind of horse. I guess the good news is that unlike the old days, I actually DO have brakes now. He will stop when I demand it. But what I don’t seem to have is nice steady speed control when he’s like this. I ask for trot and get maybe six steps and then he starts wanting to canter. I can keep him down to a trot, but it requires focus and constant reminders. If I let him canter, he has little rushes of energy that I have to check instantly or we go into maximum overdrive. You would think that with all the miles of trail this horse has, he’d be over that sort of giddy behaviour.

I’ve begun to wonder though if some of the Jekyll and Hyde switches between the galloping fool, and the lazy plug have been related to the muscle issues. He has probably had a borderline deficiency for much of his life, since he’s never really gotten enough selenium until now. If the laziness was caused by sore muscles (either actual cramps or muscle soreness from having had cramps), then maybe he’s just mostly a galloping fool. Scary thought actually… maybe I just won’t think about that any more…

I’m going to try to ride him every day between now and the Seoul’s Corners ride. Hopefully we can do a slow 25 there and finish without muscle cramps. Apparently my friend’s husband is going to ride their young horse, Seneca at that ride, and needs a slow mentor. So I’ve been elected to shepherd them through. It will be Rob’s first 25 miler. He’s done Ride n Tie, but never more than 12 miles, of which half would have been running on foot. So 25 miles will be a big deal for him. It will also be Seneca’s first 25. He’s a placid sort of horse though, so I don’t think he’ll be difficult. Just really tired 🙂

King needs to have his selenium tested again. But sadly my vet died last week. So I am going to have to find a new vet to take over monitoring this. And the other vets that I know of around here are really quite expensive. I am presenting at the training ride on Aug 20. So I will have to see if Dr. Kivi will be there. She can probably pull blood while he’s there, since I’m taking him to mentor beginners on the trail loop after the talks are over.

 

Ares is Greatly Improved, King Not So Much

Ares is vastly improved after his allergic reaction. When I checked him again last night, his head looked normal. He has a little swelling remaining under his chin, and also between his hind legs. But that seems to be it. He’ll be on antihistamines for another day. I have both Ares and Zamaluck in the round pen for now, so I can keep a close eye on Ares.

He was very funny when I got home from work. Linda came to see him too, and he was a sap. Lapping up the sympathy, resting his head on my shoulder, begging for face rubs. He moved back and forth between Linda and I, working his audience perfectly. Looking appropriately big-eyed and sad when we said “Poor Ares!” It’s taken this horse a while to settle in, but he’s turning into quite a pet. He’s going to need to go to someone who really likes to spend time with a horse, because he’s going to be just like a friendly dog with the right person.

King and I went out for a short ride in the evening. Nothing taxing. He felt reasonably good when he was moving, but he did stop a couple of times. His latest selenium levels are back up in the mid-normal range. So that’s been dealt with. But he’s still not right.

So we are trying him on the EPSM (aka PSSM) diet. Equine Polysaccharide Myopathy is a muscle disorder that mostly occurs in draft breeds and Quarter Horses. But it can occasionally crop up in Arabs. The correct way to diagnose it is with a muscle biopsy. But given my vet bills this year, I’m putting off the biopsy and just trying the diet. EPSM horses sometimes have a fairly dramatic improvement on the diet so it should be a fairly good diagnostic tool in itself.

The down side is that the diet consists of 20% of the total diet coming from fat. So King’s hay and pasture have been cut back to control the calorie intake. He is getting a meal in the morning and the evening (you would not believe the drama involved – King is beside himself with joy at getting meals) of beet pulp, roughage cubes, and a cup of oil. Then he is staying in the stall all night with one measly flake of hay. He doesn’t care though, he loves his stall. And he gets MEALS! He actually pushes the beet pulp aside so he can suck up the water and oil directly. It’s absolutely revolting to watch him eat. Ugh.

He is going to have to stay in work though. No matter whether he gets muscle cramps or not. I’m terrified that he’s going turn into a great giant marshmallow of a horse on this much oil.

Champs Day 2

Here are some more photos from the Championship ride this weekend. These were taken today….

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Champs Day 2, posted with vodpod

Ontario CTR Champs

Here are some photos that I took yesterday at the Ontario Competitive Trail Championships. Day two is today, so more pics later probably.

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You Have to Take Care of Yourself Too… Not Just Your Horse

I spent the day yesterday pit crewing Misha and Diego in their second fifty. It was HOT out there. That horse looked awesome all day. Even while Misha was threatening to make dogfood out of him after he bucked her off on her tailbone. They rode with Emma and Zillary all day, and finished together in 5th and 6th place.

Shortly afterwards, Misha started throwing up. Sunstroke and dehydration, not to mention pain from the bruised tailbone. She threw up all the way home in the truck, and I drove her home from there in her car so her husband could take her into the hospital (she was adamant that she had to go to the hospital where her Dad works). She was admitted last night so they could get IV fluids into her.

Diego looked like he hadn’t done a thing after the ride was done. He actually looked reasonably cool all day. And he still looks like he hasn’t done a thing. It topped out at 35C yesterday, with a baking sun. Maximum humidity was 94. Dressy would’ve dropped in her tracks out there, and King wouldn’t have been a whole lot better I suspect. So it’s good I didn’t decide to ride.