Sunday, August 30, 2009

Latest Conditioning Rides

I've got some catching up to do!  Here are some pictures from a ride earlier in August.  I took Zephyr out barefoot, thinking he’d do fine, but the local trails are just SOOO rocky.  We had to walk most of the way.  I vowed not to go on those trails again without Gloves!









Last night, I did a fresh ‘mini trim’ in preparation for putting on the new Gloves that Garrett sent with the prototype gaiters. I still think his toes are longer than they were, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to make them shorter without having to pare out dead sole.  I think I need to call the farrier for some help.  (Sorry the pictures are a little blurry, I was starting to lose daylight.)









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I don’t know what’s going on here, there’s been a slit in his hoof wall since July.  It’s immediately above where the Glove/Glue-on stops on his hoof wall, but I don’t know how the boot could have caused it.








First time I’ve ever seen bot eggs before.  (Got them off with a hoof knife the next day.)


The Gloves went on a little hard with the Power Straps already in place, but for the first one I took the strap off (left the T-nuts in), fitted the boot, walked him around a bit, and screwed the strap on.  Worked great.  The other three boots I was able to just muscle on and then have him walk around.

Here they are (with Zephyr standing very strangely):








I left my property on my woods trail, which has two stream crossings, both with mossy-rock bottoms.  The first stream has a steep uphill right afterward.  This video is from the second crossing, though... I didn’t think to take my camera out for the first one!  If you listen you can hear the squelching sound after we cross.

As soon as I got out onto the paved road I was stunned to see a pair of horsey ears emerging over the crown of the hill in front of me!  We never meet other riders.  As we approached each other I realized it was my new neighbor Laurie from down the road; she’s had her 7yo unregistered gelding for about a month, and we’d only met once but had hoped to get together soon to ride.  She wasn’t on a schedule so I shanghaied her and off we went to do one of my short loops.  It’s plenty rocky, hilly, and there are usually lots of puddles and mud.  Here’s one of the rockiest sections... we started trotting as soon as I put the camera away.

I kept trying to find mud so I could do a new “mudding” demo video, but we’ve had such dry weather for the month of August that even though we got 2” of rain on Saturday we didn’t have any mud on this trail.  Here’s my old mudding video... I think I posted it before but I’m not sure.  You can HEAR the mud!

Here’s Zephyr (left) with his new buddy Chief, and a head-shot of Chief.  Laurie thinks he’s Arab/Morgan.  I can see it, can you?









This morning when I turned Zephyr out in the field, he grazed for a minute and then ran off to look for Rocky and Peyton.  Unfortunately he didn’t find them, they’re still at their owners’ house!  Makes for nice video and pictures, though, and at least there’s still a cow or two out there to chase around.










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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Refitting Gloves/Glue-Ons

On Sunday 8/16, I was horrified to see damage and bruising on the hairless part of the skin on Zephyr’s heels on his hind feet.  I couldn’t take pictures that night, but this is what they looked like the next morning.  I applied Equine Relief as soon as I saw the damage, and it looked SOOO much better in the morning!  Instead of raw soft skin, it looked like a nice dry/hard frog.  That’s what you see in the pictures below.  I couldn’t even see any bruising, even though it was obvious the night before.

I have no idea what caused it, it appeared overnight when he was spending his days hanging out with his cow/horse friends in the pasture down the road.  His last glue-ons were removed two weeks ago (on 8/2), otherwise I would have suspected the heels of the boots had been too tight.

Please forgive/ignore the mud on the bottom of his hooves that makes them look wonky.









EasyCare was about to send me a set of the new EasyBoot Gloves with the prototype gaiters, and I needed to double-check sizes.  He’s been wearing size 1s on his hind feet, but due to the bruising/damage I was considering whether he should bump up to 1.5s instead.  So on 8/19 I trimmed his hind feet in preparation for a fresh fitting.

Here’s both hooves after their trim.  I’m still relatively new at this, so feedback from knowledgeable professionals is welcome!  Looking at these pictures though, YES, I can see that his toes are creeping forward; it’s especially obvious on the left hind.

LEFT HIND: Farrier trim on left (photo taken in early June), and my trim on right (I’ve been trimming him since the June photos).










RIGHT HIND: Farrier trim on left, my trim on right.

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Here’s his right hind hoof in a size 1.  The left-hand photo is the original version of the Glove, in June after the farrier removed his shoes and trimmed him, and the right-hand photo is the new thick-toe Glove.  (I realize his hair looks brown in the new photo, but it was just the lighting and the dirty leg!)  I don’t know if his hoof got bigger in addition to the toe getting longer, or if the thicker-toe version is also less stretchy, but it definitely fits differently.  His hoof doesn’t go all the way in.









And here’s the same hoof in a size 1.5.  Again... farrier trim photo is on the left. 









One last photo... right front hoof... wish there was more concavity, but I suspect there may be a lot of dead sole there.








My conclusion... it’s clear that his hooves are all a little longer than they were when I first did the fit kit.  I keep trying to get the hoof wall even with the sole, but when I do, he’s really ouchy on any kind of rocks or pebbles.  He may just need some hoof wall!  I’ll continue to take pictures and compare them as I go along.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I thought this was supposed to be a SCENIC railroad?

My husband and I went for a ride on a local “scenic railroad”, accompanied by my new coworker Debbie and her husband Kevin.  We started with lunch at Ralph’s Cafe right around the corner... yummy! Excellent food, excellent atmosphere, and good prices.  That was honestly the best part of the day!

When we arrived at the historic railroad station, this is what we saw.  The engine looked nice but the converted boxcar and the exterior of the coach were in sad, sad shape!  The front of the building was ok but the back was in need of some help.   Hopefully this is a good year for donations...

















We sat around in the back yard for a bit, on the only available seating... some “rail bikes” that they use for 4 mile (round trip) excursions on a set of closed tracks.  It was in the 90s and sunny, with high humidity, so after a few minutes I started to feel a little sick and had to move to the shade.  That meant sitting on the platform and leaning back against the building, because there were no benches.

When the conductor called All Aboard, which we were actually a bit surprised he bothered with given that there were only 10 passengers, we optimistically opted for seats in the boxcar so that we could have a good view of the scenery.  Here’s Deb and Kevin, aren’t they cute in their matching shirts?








At every road crossing, this guy had to drive ahead in his little red pick-up truck to stop traffic for us.  Not much traffic in this part of Maine, but it’s the law.  It was fun to watch him run to his truck and speed off, trying hard to make it to the next crossing before us!









Since the engine was right next to us, each road crossing was LOUD.

Remember I mentioned this was a “scenic” railroad?  Well, mostly the scenery was just trees.  Since I was feeling a little sick from the heat, and a little more sick from the motion of the train, watching the trees go by wasn’t a high point of my day.  It seems to make motion sickness worse.  This was actually the only pretty scenery on the whole trip, which lasted somewhere around 1.5 hours.








When we got to the turn around point, we saw that it wasn’t another station (as we’d thought), it was just a short section of siding track where the engine could disconnect and go around next to us to get to the other end of the train.  Not sure why they didn’t just drive back by pushing the train instead of pulling it, especially since the engine had driven in reverse the whole way.

On the way back, I walked up to the coach to see what that was like.  I wish I’d ridden there the whole way; it was a much smoother ride and with all the windows open it was surprisingly cool.  Still no scenery though!

Anyway... that was our day.  Pretty sure we won’t bother going back!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Trim Photos

I trimmed Zephyr’s hooves before riding last Sunday; these pictures are from after I got back.



















Pasture Living

Zephyr has been enjoying his time in Gary’s cow field, just down the road from our house.  I’ve been leaving him out there unless we’re expecting heavy rain or a thunderstorm.  He has two other horses and 6-10 cows for company.  Every night, even if he’s going to stay out there, I bring grain for him and the other two horses.  They see my headlamp as I walk towards the field along the road.  It took a few days for them to figure it out, but now I think they watch for me.  Sometimes Zephyr comes running all by himself and it takes Rocky and Peyton a few minutes to figure out what’s going on.  It sure is nice not to have to tromp all the way across the field to get him!

Wednesday night, even though the weather was nice, Zephyr followed me back to the gate and very clearly asked me to bring him home.  (Last night, though, no such request.)  Funny boy.

Here’s a series of videos from the Thursday morning when I brought him back.

Larry, Moe, and Curly... all the shades of brown!










Sunday, August 9, 2009

Western Maine Pioneer: July 25 – August 1, 2009

Written on August 5:

I’ve waited a few days, hoping inspiration would strike, but I’m just feeling BLAH about this one.  So here goes… short and sweet (for once).

We left home around 8ish in the morning on Friday July 25.  I stopped along the way to have my Trailer Guy fix something on the awning.  He spent 20 minutes trying to get it just right, before settling for “it works” and only charging me $5.


I stopped again to get some hay… which Zephyr proved he could get to no matter HOW short his tie rope was.  Hay guy says this isn’t his “good field” and he’s not happy with it, but we both thought it was great.


I arrived at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds, with Zephyr in tow, early in the afternoon.  I had to be there for the used tack sale to benefit our mounted search and rescue unit, and for the meeting later that night.

Zephyr settling into his stall:


The used tack sale:


I believe this was the day I went to lunch with Mary Coleman (of “Hawk The Mighty Morgan” fame) and her husband Charles, and their friend who was also named Mary.  Mary Coleman was there to ride, but she was also selling her rump rugs, bale bags, fencepost bags, and a few other things.  I have to put in a shameless plug for her sponge leashes… I got one from her on the last day I was there, and I tested it out today (8/9), and I LOVE IT.  Much better than my old biothane sponge leash that I bought the first year I competed.  It’s just a simple soft nylon web strap with a snap at each end, but I really do love it!








On Sunday I volunteered a bit for the 2nd day of the Crooked River CTR.  It rained a lot, and was extremely buggy… too many mosquitoes to believe!  I took some pictures on trail, and also did my first official stint as a Pulse and Respiration (P&R) taker.  My first horse belonged to Steve Rojek, and I learned a very valuable lesson… when you’re staring at their flanks to count the inhalations, and they look like they’re panting, check to see if they’re sniffing the air. 

Sunday afternoon, I checked in with Jane, ride registration agent extraordinaire.  I had thought that in order to ride the “Pioneer” ride, I needed to ride the 50 on Wednesday, 55 on Thursday, and 50 on Friday.  It turned out that this was true, but that if I didn’t want to collect points for Pioneer rides, it didn’t matter which days I rode.  So I decided to ride Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and go home to hubby a day early.  Zephyr was going crazy (and getting stiff) in that darn stall anyway.

After that, I trimmed Zephyr’s feet in preparation for boot gluing.  He wasn’t standing very well, and wasn’t all that willing to keep his feet on the hoof jack, but I wrote it off to the fact that I was making him stand out in the light rain.  I did make note that the left front hoof ended up a touch longer than the right front.  I was trimming each hoof individually as it needed to be trimmed, and I really didn’t see any way to force them to be the same, so I let it be.  Afterwards, I put Thrushbuster on all four hooves. 

I have to say, this isn’t my best trim job ever.  You win some, you lose some. 

Left front:


Right front:


Right hind:


Left hind:


When it came time to glue the front boots on (with Goober Glue), I brought him under the barn overhang.  The only available crossties were awkwardly placed, with the barn-side tie attached right behind a top stall door.  That top door couldn’t be closed because there was a horse in that stall.  I can’t tell you how many times I hit my head on the bottom of that top stall door!  I seriously thought I might end up with a concussion, without ever setting butt in saddle.

This picture was taken later, while the glue was drying, but I want you to see how good he was to stand there with the door right in his face!


For this gluing effort, Garrett from EasyCare had sent me the new thick-toe shells.  At home, I had already drilled two holes in the bottom of each boot for the sole packing, and had trimmed the backs of the hind boots because his hind heels are lower.  The left-hand boot, below, is the one I cut down, and the right-hand boot is the same size but just a spare boot that I put on to draw the lines.  I wanted to keep the actual boots I was going to use as clean and dry as possible until it was show time.


So first, I put all the spare boots on and drew the lines.  You can see from two of the boots being shiny (front right, left hind) exactly how HUMID it was!


I was surprised to note that his left front foot, previously in a 2, was fitting loosely in a 1.5 (ie, the V didn’t spread, and when I pushed on the toe, it “gave” a bit… there was room between the hoof wall and the boot). Given the loose fit, I was even more reluctant to try to take off any more toe from that longer hoof, despite the fact that (as you can see in the above photo) the left front hoof was indeed a little longer than the right front hoof.  So I went ahead and glued both front boots on. 

First though, because it was so humid and his feet were wet from walking through the wet grass, I wiped them both down with rubbing alcohol to try to dry the sheen of water off them.  Afterwards I realized that may not have been a good move, given that Goober Glue can only be cleaned off your hands with rubbing alcohol!  Oh well.

I put the glue in the first boot and spread it out, then put it on the first hoof and spread it out.  I wonder… can you find a putty knife with a slightly out-curved blade??  The flat blade was awkward inside the boot.

While waiting for 10 minutes to pass, I put glue in/on the other front boot and hoof.  At the 9.5 minute mark, I began to put the first boot on.  The second boot went on at what I thought was also the 9.5-10 minute mark (for that boot).

After he’d stood for a while, I looked harder at that left front boot.  Oh, my.  If you looked at the heel, and at the line I’d drawn, the boot looked as if it was all the way on his hoof.  But looking at the whole thing from the side gave a different picture!  The front angle of his hoof was “broken” and the boot looked like it wasn’t all the way on.  Maybe I’d put too much GG in there?  Maybe I’d waited too long before joining hoof to boot?  There wasn’t anything I could do at that point, so I decided to just let it keep drying and see how the test ride went on Monday. 

I thought I took a side view picture, but apparently I didn’t.  You can sort of see what I mean because he’s standing with that foot turned a little to the outside.


He stood quietly with his hay bag for the whole hour that the glue needed to dry, then I put him back in his stall.  I would have considered putting in the sole packing (more Goober Glue) at this point, if I had realized that the sawdust in the stalls would get into the boots through the holes in the sole, but I didn’t think about it.

I think it was Sunday afternoon when Kathie Robbins and her posse arrived to claim their stalls for the week.  They came over to borrow a broom, so I lent mine, and for some odd reason they laughed at my “poor excuse for a broom”.  I don’t know what they were making fun of, my broom gets into the corners of the trailer way better than most brooms.  Most brooms are handicapped by the fact that they’re square across the bottom.  Mine has been custom-shaped into more of a sickle-shape.

Monday was a day off, so Sunday night a bunch of us partied!

I love this BBQ grill / toolbox…


As I recall, this is Patti Pizzo sending her first text message… to Steven Hay... on a borrowed phone.  Steven was at a different ride, and ended up texting our group for the whole duration of our party.


As the sun fell, we got louder.  Tom the ride manager (red polo shirt) eventually came over to ask us to be quiet, but we managed to suck him into our nefarious scheme to keep everyone awake.

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When I got back to my trailer, I discovered many small bruises on my legs.  Not sure what they were from, except maybe from mosquito bites.  This picture does not do them justice.


Monday I got up and fed Zephyr, then went back to bed until 8:30 or so.  When I got up, Kyle and Caleigh wanted to ride.  We were out for a couple hours; we rode to the Saco River.  Both of their horses like to lay down in the water, which Kyle and Caleigh really enjoy.  I, not so much!  I had to turn Zephyr’s head away so he wouldn’t see.

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Despite the funky fit of that left front boot, Zephyr was moving well in his front Glue-Ons and hind Gloves.  Monday afternoon, just as I was about to glue on his hind boots, we had a bad thunderstorm.  It was supposed to give us 60mph winds but nobody was sorry when it didn’t!  Afterwards, I began to glue his boots on, but I made the mistake of not looking at the clock before I started.  I began gluing at 5pm.  Vetting closed at 6pm and he had to “cook” in the stall until 8pm.  Dr. Otis was kind enough to approve late vetting.

I think it was Monday afternoon that Kathie came over and presented me with a new-to-me broom!  It looked just like my old one except that it hadn’t yet been broken in (though Kathie insisted that it was her old broom, so it was broken in).  She was so proud of herself, though, that I took it, and duly promised to throw away my old broom.  In the end, though, I couldn’t do it... I left it next to my stall for the next broom-less rider to claim.  I’ll just have to work hard to break in this new one.  (Kathie’s friend Pam(?) later came over and gave me a second new broom.  For some reason she thought it was funny that she and Kathie both separately had come up with the same gift idea.  *shrug*  I didn’t have the heart to say no, so now I have two new brooms to break in.

At the riders’ meeting, we found out that Tuesday and Wednesday would both be 55 mile rides, with identical trail, instead of 50 on Tuesday and 55 on Wednesday.

After the riders’ meeting, I did the sole packing for Zephyr’s hind boots, then went to bed.

The 6am start on Tuesday was laid back.  There were 19 riders; Zephyr and I ended up in the front 4 horses or so.  The first part of the trail was easy woods trails, then there was a long stretch of really deep mud through the potato/alfalfa/corn fields, then we popped out onto a paved road with no ribbons at all.  Good thing Steve Rojek was familiar with the trail!  He said turn left, and pretty soon we saw an arrow and ribbons sending us to the right onto a dirt road.  Then came more dirt roads as we entered the National Forest.  Several stretches through the woods had no ribbons either.  After a bit we came to “13 Bridges”, a trail so named because of the 13 wooden bridges along its length.  We’d been warned that they were slippery, so Zephyr and I went around the first bridge and then walked very slowly onto the second.

Unfortunately, as soon as all four feet were on the wet, slimy, mildew-covered wood, he completely lost any semblance of traction.  The rider behind me later told me that he did the splits with his hind legs and sat down, at which point I tumbled off over his left hip, landing on my already-sore left shoulder (and hip, and head).  He continued to fall, landing on his chest and rolling to the left a bit, before scrambling up and gingerly making his way to the far side.  Other riders tried to grab his bridle but he just walked slowly down the trail until I could catch up.

One of the other horses in our group, with steel shoes on, also lost traction and sat down.  That horse was able to get back to his feet without losing his rider, thankfully.

I had some trouble remounting, especially when he stood on my foot with his left hind foot (and stood, and stood), but eventually I got back on.  Megan, a vet who was riding AND vetting the ride, was with me at the time, and she said he looked ok to her… so off we went.  She and I both dismounted and walked across any of the bridges that we couldn’t go around.  I was so grateful for her company and patience!

At some point in this section, one of Zephyr’s Toklat hind-leg interference boots slid down around his pastern, as they sometimes do.  Megan said she would show me later how to trim them so I could tighten them more.  (She did show me at the hold, but I didn’t have any scissors… I performed surgery that night and VOILA, magic, they fit nicely now!  You just cut off the extra 1/4” of neoprene that sticks out beyond the metal ring.  It lets you tighten them just a smidge tighter, and it makes all the difference in the world.)

Written on August 9:

Loop 1 was billed as 17.4 miles, but most people agreed that it was at least a mile longer.  All I know is that it took me 3 hours.  When we got to the hold at 9am, I removed his tack and led him over to the pulse timer; he was already down.  He vetted in with all As.  The hold was in the sunny yard of a library, and my hold box had been placed somewhat near a crook of the building that had some shade in it, so I dragged it closer and we enjoyed a semblance of shade for our 50-minute hold.  I didn’t really miss having a crew except for not having someone to bring water over to my spot, and not having someone to hold Zephyr while I used the bushes.  Which is to say, when I did miss having a crew, I missed it A LOT.

There was a fair amount of discussion at this hold about whether the return trip back to camp (Loop 3) would cross the 13 Bridges again, like it was supposed to.  Several other people had been involved in wrecks and near-wrecks on those bridges, and I wasn’t the only person who was vocal in their preferences!  Ride manager Tom decided to send us back a different way, and I was glad for it.

Loop 2 was a lollipop that left the hold, went north into New Hampshire towards Evans Notch, and then came back on the same trail.  It was billed as 22 miles, but I had company for the whole loop and it didn’t really feel that bad.  Our group did get lost a couple of times due to “minimalist turn markings” but not for very long.

Nancy Walker’s horse:


Corey, a 30-miler:


We did get to see some nice scenery, when we remembered to look around:

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Zephyr and I got to the second hold at 1:05pm… so that 22 miles had taken us 3 hours and 10 minutes.  I had the same spot next to the library building… but this time I got smart.  There was a heating oil filling pipe sticking out of the wall in an L, so I draped Zephyr’s lead rope over it and VOILA, he was sure he was tied!  I got to go take care of my business with nary a care.

As we left for Loop 3, I think Nancy and I were running 3rd and 4th.  Loop 3 took us back to camp via roads, instead of through the National Forest and the dreaded 13 Bridges.  This also shortened the time on trail significantly.  I was still riding with Nancy and Corey, and we boogied right along until we got back to the potato fields, which were maybe 5 miles from camp. 

At the potato fields, suddenly it was Larry, Moe, and Curly… or the No Evil siblings (See No / Hear No / Speak No Evil)… or SOMETHING.  Each of us had a clue that we were off trail, but none of us were able to understand the whole picture, so we were 2 miles off trail before we realized it.  Nancy thought we should have stayed in the fields longer, I thought it was strange that we were no longer following the popcorn trail on my GPS, and Corey was sure that the three ribbons tied around that tree back there meant we were supposed to do something.  But, we were following pink ribbons clearly hung to the edge of the potato field and then suddenly there was NOTHING.  No pink ribbons at all… not until we got a ways down the paved road, and suddenly there were pink ribbons again.  We didn’t think anything weird about that, because there had been long stretches earlier in the day that had been ribbon-less.  We were just glad to have found the ribbons.

We had just reached the bottom of a muddy, rocky, nasty downhill section when we came to a paved road and were met by Tom the Ride Manager, who had been alerted by Bill Rice (the volunteer horse ambulance driver) that we were off trail.  Bill had turned onto the paved road (the one we turned onto just as we left the potato field) and seen my shirt and helmet in his rear view mirror.  Somehow, he realized we weren’t supposed to be there, and actually turned his truck/trailer around to come and tell us… but by the time he could turn around, we were gone.  He called Tom, who sent Roy out on his motor bike, but Roy couldn’t catch us before we met up with Tom at the next road crossing.  Roy and Tom both escorted us back to the edge of the potato fields, where we discovered what had happened.

I had seen a series of three pink ribbons, one after the other, leading around a slight left-hand curve in the field.  We had followed those ribbons around the corner and then found a series of pink ribbons leading out of the field.  Unfortunately, that second set of ribbons had been from the CTR the weekend prior… they were NOT our ribbons.   OUR ribbons WERE the ones leading around that slight left turn… but apparently they were actually hung in three sets of two (two ribbons mean a turn) and they were supposed to tell us to turn right!

Nancy felt bad because her horse had wanted to turn right.  I felt bad because my GPS told me we should have turned right before we got to the edge of the field.  Corey felt bad because she had been saying “this paved road feels right” as she led us down the primrose path. 

We weren’t the only ones to get lost, but we were lost the longest.  At least eight riders passed us before we got back on trail, so instead of finishing 4th or 5th, and getting done before 4pm, Nancy and I finished 13th and 14th at 4:46pm.  I have to tell you, I was really upset, both because we lost the placing and because of the extra miles.  But I guess them’s the breaks.

When I got back to the trailer to cool Zephyr down for vetting, I was greeted by Lucy, my crew for the next two days’ rides.  I was thrilled to see her!  Among other things, she had promised to take Zephyr out of his dreaded stall and walk him every hour or two.  God bless the crews!

Zephyr vetted out just fine, and Lucy and I began to go over what I needed her to do for me during the next day’s ride.  Since the trail would be the same, and the forecast was for hotter temperatures, we drove out to the hold to drop off my First-Up canopy for shade.  She walked Zephyr for me while I repacked my hold tub, loaded the coolers in the truck, and we both went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Wednesday’s ride started at 6:30am, with only 9 or 10 riders.  I was in the saddle by 6am to warm Zephyr up, worried that he might have gotten sore overnight because of the accident on the bridge.  I was alarmed when he acted very reluctant to walk; I dismounted and led him straight to Dr. Otis, who recommended that I just get back on and continue warming him up.  Dr. Otis’ instinct had been right, Zephyr quickly warmed up out of it, and trotted sound on pavement as we headed to the trail.

The trail was the same, except that we hadn’t gotten rain the night before, so the bridges had dried and were now safe to cross.  Hallelujah!  Zephyr and I played leapfrog with several other horses on Loop 1, and arrived at the first hold in due time.  I believe we were running 4th but I don’t really know anymore.  Zephyr took a few minutes to pulse down, but I attributed it to a lack of coordination between Lucy and I.  She had never crewed before so it wasn’t a pretty sight.  He ate relatively well at this hold, and had been drinking well all morning, so I was happy.

We left for Loop 2 alone.  Loop 2 was completely different on this day, or at least it seemed like it.  The hills were bigger (up and down), the air temperature was higher, the sun was brighter, and there was less breeze. His Highness was not pleased, and kept walking super-slow or stopping and refusing to walk on.  I was annoyed but not worried, because he does that at home sometimes.  The more I ask him to go forward, the more PO’d he gets with me, and the less willing he becomes.  The solution is usually to just let him rest for a few minutes until he forgets why he’s mad, or just get off and lead for a while.  I did both. 

Finally, it seemed like we had settled into a rhythm.  Lucy met us several times on the second half of this loop, and eventually we met up with a mother and daughter team who was trying to do all five days of 50/55s.  Zephyr perked up a bit once we met up with them, but was still occasionally dragging.  His attitude was flipping back and forth between perky and PO’d, but he was still eating and drinking very well.

At the second hold, he told me he was done.  His pulse took a while to come down, his respiration was still fast even after our hold time, his eyes were dull, and his ears were pinned back.  Either it was just too darn hot for him, or he was sore from his accident the day before, or both.  Technically he would have been allowed to continue, but it wouldn’t have been a good idea, so I chose to pull “Rider Option”. 

It sounds so simple here in print, but it seriously hurts to see your friend and partner that way.  It hurts even more to think back about all the signals he gave, knowing in hindsight what they meant.  I’m pretty sure I cried.  After a hug from my friend (the ambulance driver) Bill, I led Zephyr over to the trailer so Dr. Ron and his vet assistant could get him set up with a bag of fluids just to be on the safe side. 

It took maybe 45 minutes to do that, and then we were on the road back to camp.  Zephyr was already starting to come out of the sedative by the time he got on the trailer, and back in camp he was all set.  But I do think he slept a lot that afternoon!

I had already planned to stay until Friday morning, because my friend and massage therapist Cathy Hatch was scheduled to arrive Wednesday night and do horse/human massages through Saturday night, so I opted to stay and let Zephyr rest under vet supervision until Friday.

Wednesday night I got Cathy set up in her two stalls, one for horses and one for humans… the human stall complete with massage table and hot stones.

On Thursday I went out to the hold, this time at a church, and helped riders without crews.  This basically meant I held horses so people could go use the bushes.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until just after I had answered my own call of nature… the kind you would definitely prefer a toilet for, especially given the voracious mosquito population… that I found out the church was unlocked and the bathrooms were available!  GAH!  Oh well, good thing I had Benadryl gel with me, I needed it.

I spent the rest of my day sitting under the canopy with the vet, farrier, and ride volunteers, sharing my food and eating their food.  It was the best thing I could have done with my unexpected day off.  Much better than moping in camp!

After the day’s ride, I sought out Dr. Ron to get my bill.  I had been seriously stressing about the bill, because I had no idea how much it would be.  When I saw the bill I was completely stunned and gave Dr. Ron a big hug.  Later I found out that he actually wrote the bill for only about 10-15% of what it should have cost.  Nobody would ‘fess up, but I think I know who my benefactor was, and all I can say is THANK YOU.  THANK YOU so much!  Someday I will pay this forward.

Cathy was determined to work on my sore shoulder for me, but that night, there was so much demand for her massage services that she couldn’t get to me until after 9pm.  So it was more like a mosquito-ssage!  Her little lamp was the only light in the whole barn, so the mosquitoes were drawn to us.  I literally stayed completely covered by the sheet, even my head, while she worked on my shoulder.  It was SO worth it.

Zephyr and I left the fairgrounds around 9:30am on Friday, after he got his second massage in two days.  He was scheduled to see his chiropractor on the way home, which I had arranged for via cell phone after our adventures the day before. 

Dr. Reynolds found that two of his cervical vertebrae were out of alignment, his sternum was rotated to the left, his left hip was rotated forward, and one of his ribs on the left side (just behind the shoulder blade) was out of alignment.  Apparently, although of course none of that is good, the rib was the most painful for him.  I could see that he felt better after she worked on him.

Our next stop was Zephyr’s vet.  I had asked Dr. Ron if I should have his blood tested, and what to test for, and he recommended that I test for levels of Selenium and Vitamin E.  Because it was only $15 more, I decided to also have them test him for levels of the various electrolytes.  Today is Sunday 8/9 and I still don’t have the results… I’m really interested to see them!

Zephyr’s hind boots came off in the pasture on Saturday August 1, six days after application.  It was the first time I ever used Goober Glue, and it was the first time he’d been turned out to pasture with two other horses, so I don’t know what happened.  I still haven’t found them, but then it’s a big pasture.  I can tell you that the right hind boot didn’t wear through at the toe after 95 miles, but the left hind had begun to wear through.  The gap was maybe an inch long.  His front boots stayed on well, and gave me a bit of a challenge to remove them on Sunday August 2, but they were still much easier to remove than when I glued them on with Vettec Adhere.

That’s it, folks.  Hard to think of it as a success, even though we did complete Tuesday’s 55-mile ride. 

I guess I’ll have to just mark it down as “I learned something”... and I got a couple of new brooms.

PS… I didn’t think of this until I was all done, so I’m adding it here because I know some of you are curious.  Starting Monday night, Zephyr got a heaping scoop of EnduraMax electrolytes in his grain at the fairgrounds each afternoon/evening/morning.  (Normally I would have started a day earlier, but I moved my rides up by a day.)  On Tuesday, he got a dose of Lyte Now at each of the two holds.  On Wednesday, he got four doses of Lyte Now throughout the ~40 miles we rode, including at the second hold… one at the first hold, two during Loop 2, and one at the second hold.  This is different from our usual protocol of dosing with applesauce/EnduraMax via syringe at holds and on trail.  I’ve had these Lyte Now’s in my fridge since last summer and wanted to use them.  Call me paranoid, but I’m not sure I’ll use Lyte Now again!