What a weekend! Boomer and I completed our second 50 mile endurance ride on Sunday! We had a friend from the barn come with us who rode the 25 mile ride also. It was a seriously fun weekend!
This ride had a lot of learning experiences for me. I'm still trying to organize my thoughts, but I'll give it a go here. I have planned posts that will publish in the next few days about the ride along with a post of pictures.
The area where we are most lacking is at the vet checks, specifically in regards to hydration and gut mobility. Boomer is perfectly fit, but my lack of 'know how' really slowed us down. First issue that came up was that Boomer didn't drink at all until the 15 mile vet check, then didn't drink again until we were almost back in camp for the 30 mile check. Miles 22-30 were at a walk/hand walking and grazing at any chance we could get. Boomer sort of hit a wall and I could tell he was dehydrated. But he wouldn't drink at any of the streams we crossed. As I thought about it, I realized that at our last ride, he didn't drink ground water either- only from a tub and at the vet checks. I don't think he knew he could drink ground water. Finally, after stopping for the umpteenth time, he drank long and hard out of a huge puddle filled with tadpoles. Then he drank again out of a stream. He drank well on our next loop as well. I am really hoping that he learned to drink on this ride. However, I know that it is my responsibility to keep him hydrated and I can't count on him to take care of himself.
The next area that needs work is energy/gut mobility. Even though I let Boomer graze a lot and fed him as many apples and carrots as he wanted, he was lacking gut sounds at the finish. He had A's on everything else, but his gut sound score was a C. Because he grazed during the check and during the last loop, the vet said that he wasn't concerned and would check him again after the ride meeting was over. Within 30 minutes of grazing the sounds had returned and within an hour they were normal. About an hour after that he pooped and has been normal since. It scared me pretty badly though and I really had a hard look at what we could do differently at the next ride.
First change I will make will be to get him used to beet pulp again. He enjoyed eating it if he got it frequently, but it is an acquired taste for him and he seems to lose interest in it if he hasn't had it recently. So, I think he needs to have a beet pulp/grain/salt mash for dinner, breakfast, and at checks. This will (hopefully) help both the hydration and gut issues. Adding a little grain to the beet pulp will help him eat it and a few handfuls will hopefully add a little energy without the stress of a large meal. I really hope that will help.
The next change we are going to make is to not vet in right away. I had previously been of the mind that it was best to get it out of the way first thing, then let the horse relax. However, I think that our scores would have improved greatly had I taken the time to untack and let Boomer eat and drink a little. In fact, we did the second check differently from the first and my scores went from mostly B's to mostly A's.