Monday, April 12, 2010

Eagle Ranch Spring Fling- Lessons

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.


txtrigger said...

Keep in mind, what he eats on Wednesday/Thursday, is what he poops on the trail on Saturday. So, to keep the hind gut moving, I now put MUCH more thought into what the horses eat from Wednesday on. The mashes start Wednesday for us if I am not giving them normally anyway. have started using some Timothy pellets in the mashes too, along with beet pulp, for more "forage", that is also wet. Find that right program for your horse.

Shanster said...

HOORAY! I read all 3 posts and it sounds like it was such a success! You learned, you took away some things you'd do differently - sure - you can't know everything! Sheesh! I'm so glad it all went so great for you and your boy! You guys make a great, great team!

I'm glad you are so happy with the ride and how well the two of you did. Can only go up from here right? big happy grin.

Anonymous said...

Heather, it was fun to see you at the ride. tt's funny but I had some similar experiences to yours. I rode Charm on her 2nd 50, her first was in OK at the same ride with you. She went really well given her lack of training and the hard conditions, and we finished as the turtle on Sat. She also had gut sound problems dropping to a B at the first check and C on the completion. She was fine afterwards - ate and drank and eventually pooped. I was worried a bit, as you were. Her situation was a bit different in that she is fed beet pulp all the time. I did give her dose of probiotics at the first hold (not enough apparently) and used EnduaMax on the trail which has a probiotic in it. Still need to figure out a way to improve her gut sounds. Your blog has given me some ideas. Thanks, Scott

Heather said...

Scott- It was really cool to see you there too! I'm really looking forward to getting to know the community! I really meant to say HI to your daughter and talk to her a little, but just didn't get to it this ride... Hope to see you both again in the fall!

Shanster- It was so awesome, I am so proud of Boomer. There is so much to learn about horses and endurance, I'm trying to learn everything I can and do best by my horse. It can be frustrating/scary though because often the horses health is at stake when I make a mistake or don't know enough... No pressure there :)

txtrigger- Thanks for that tip, I hadn't thought about that when preparing for this ride. That will definitely be something to play around with!

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