"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Made It!!

Remember when Lily had her injury

We were trying to go to Little Bennett Regional Park, which I have gone to before with Kathy and both horses on separate occasions, but Charles had never been. The camping adventure was so that I could give him the tour, but alas it didn't happen. 

I had been wanting to go at some point because this park has some of my absolute most favorite trails in this area so far and it is also now ridiculously close to our barn. 

So last weekend we decided to try again and just take the horses for a day ride at Little Bennett. 

I might have taken a 1/4 dose of Xanax because just the thought of trying this again after all we went through sent my anxiety through the roof. 

The tiny dose of drugs (0.13 mg if you're wondering because yes, I am a lightweight) did wonders. I was calm but no drowsiness or altered behavior whatsoever. I felt normal; I just wasn't fixating on stuff that worries me like I seem to do most of the time. No buzz buzz buzz at the back of my mind. 

We tied the horses to the trailer this time to eat while we packed up, loaded them up (Gracie was a rock star, and Lily self-loaded like she always does) and headed out. 

It was great to unload them safely and know we had made it. 

The girls both had mashes with elytes and we tacked up. We took one of the trails I had not been on before. 

The trail dead-ended onto this road:

Which we followed until we realized it led back to a main road. We turned around and re-traced our steps then took an alternate route we found that took us through the woods, stopping at this creek to give the horses the option of drinking water. It was hot as balls and very, very humid, even in the shade:

We found this trail around fields and meadows.

We cantered through here.

And eventually ended up on the golf course, where we turned around and retraced our steps. Of course, we turned around after having to convince Charles that it was a BAD IDEA to go cantering around the golf course. 

Charles: "But the grass look so green and soft and inviting! Tell me you wouldn't do it!"
Me: *laughing* "Welcome to every horse person's secret dream: to go galloping across a golf course!"

We found this other field:

Which eventually took us back to the trailer parking lot. We trotted through the parking lot field without stopping and took the loop I'm familiar with, down through the woods, through a field with the trail switchbacking down the side of a hill back into the woods to a creek crossing.

The water level at the creek was lower than I'd ever seen before but we stopped to let the horses drink because it was so hot. In the process I managed to drop my dressage whip, which sank into one of the deeper pools of water. I had no desire to get my feet and legs wet when we were only halfway through our ride so after attempting unsuccessfully to retrieve the whip, I gave up. But first, I snagged these pics for y'all.

Holding Lily while I went whip fishing.
We came from that path on the left.
We continued on, around another field and back into the woods. We trotted again when the trail widened into double track.

Shortly after this, Lily finally said, "Hoof boots please." I had packed two Gloves for her fronts in my cantle bag so I dismounted to hammer them on with a rock. She had successfully removed the flare she gets on her RF that I'm always afraid to entirely rasp off when trimming. Yay no more flare! Once booted on her fronts, Lily said, "THANK YOU!" and went back to motoring down the trail.

Eventually we zig-zagged through a meadow path that led us onto a small bridge with a small path into the water that flows underneath it. We stopped here to let the horses drink and cool off and they had a ball.

Gracie was splashing away at the water. Lily wanted to stand close so her face would get wet.

Slow-mo of Gracie pawing in the water
(yes, I did tell Charles that he needed to shorten the reins a bit)
The best part is watching him re-play this video while making Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions: "Water, I will kill you until you die from it!"
Gracie discovers the buffet.
Lily copied her.
We finally turned the girls around to head back onto the trail. G-mare had effectively dug herself a hole in the water by alternately pawing with both fronts and had to launch herself out of it.

We took a side trail that I had not seen before but it was just getting hotter and hotter and I decided to just turn around and we headed back to the trailer.

My favorite trail at this park.
We did 9 miles in about 2 hours: we trotted and cantered but also walked quite a bit because it was so hot. Gracie scarfed her elyte mash at the trailer but Lily did not want to touch hers and despite being sponged off and cooled down, she looked really blah. She wouldn't eat hay nor grass either. We offered water but she would not drink, though it had only been about 30 minutes, if not less, since the creek stop. I ultimately syringed her a triple dose of elytes and 2 doses of potassium salt, then we loaded the horses up and headed home, since it was such a short drive.

Once at the barn, both girls had proper bubble baths in the shade and Lily looked much better. She dug into a pile of hay after this and once both of them were dry, we turned them out.

Both mares headed straight for the waterer and drank and drank.

I felt bad...it's highly likely Lily's lack of interest in food at the trailer was because she was still hot and thirsty. I'm not sure how to resolve her not wanting to drink at the trailer when water is offered (it was water from the same barn water source as what comes out of their field waterer), other than offering her a soupy mash (which she did not want on this day), but I do know from now on we'll be letting them drink at the waterer the moment they get unloaded back at the barn!

We had a really great time, and Charles has added Little Bennet to his own list of Favorite Places to Ride At. :)


  1. Can't wait to ride these trails with you! And maybe your dressage whip will present itself to a worthy rider much like Excaliber to King Arthur:) As for the drinking at the trailer, I've been thinking about experimenting with Gatorade for Nimo. I wonder if Lily would drink it? Or something besides straight water?

    1. Next on the list!! :D

      I laughed out loud over my whip = Excalibur! The way it disappeared under the surface of the water, so that I could not see it at all (it was the one pool of water that was chest deep on the horses in the otherwise very shallow creek!) I wouldn't be surprised if something like that happened...hahahaha

      The Horse Quencher had worked really well for a long time until she decided she didn't like it anymore, regardless of flavor offered. And then I've tried really soupy mashes, which normally she will go for but we've struggled with the last two rides, despite the mashes being made with a mix of her two favorite grains (her Tribute Kalm Ultra + Gracie's Essential K). Normally she would dive right into that. I was surprised that her urine was very concentrated yesterday at the end of our ride despite her constant drinking on trail and the cooler weather...I think we are going to be continuing with the elyting experiments, that's for sure. :/

      So yes: Gatorade! Will definitely be trying that. I knew an OTTB that LOVED Gatorade and would chug entire water buckets with just half a bottle of sports drink added to the water.

  2. First, didn't you used to use Horse Quencher? Did you stop because Lily wouldn't drink or cost?

    Second, I love the blog header pic!! Except that Charles needs to drop his right shoulder. :)


    1. She is as frustrating with water additives as she is with food..she stopped drinking Horse Quencher over a year ago. I had tried the Purina Hydration Hay and Lily SCARFED it...all of one time. Gracie the remaining cubes, though she too ended up being lackadaisical about it, which was surprising. Won't be buying that again, that's for sure. I will be trying adding Gatorade, as I have heard of that work with other horses in the past.

      Oh man, you wouldn't believe how many photos were involved in the making of that header because it is SO hard to get a photo of Charles where he's both smiling (not making some goofy face) and not slouching (which he doesn't do while in action while riding but he does do when standing still and a camera is pointed at him...) There is one where he dropped the shoulder but then stuck his outside leg out. He has the attention span of a 2 year old...lol

      And YES. AMEN!

  3. I had the opportunity to ride across a golf course because they built one where I used to ride, and as soon as it was finished, I had to do it. It had not been golfed yet so I felt pretty safe, but did get discovered and chased by a staff person in a truck. That just made it more fun "Run faster Baasha!" It's hard to be sneaky with a white horse.

    1. Lytha, that sounds absolutely AMAZING!!!!

  4. Everything is so brown and dry here in ca this time of year I'm always so shocked at how GREEN things are in your area. It was very refreshing :)

    1. I think it's funny that I was commenting on your blog at the exact same time you were commenting on mine! :D

      I'm always surprised by how dry it is in your neck of the woods this time of year. If I didn't know it was also very hot, I'd think your summers look just like here in mid-winter. It's impossible to tell in these photos but the trees are just ever so slightly starting to change colors: yellow is slowly appearing more and more, and there is an orange leaf or two here and there. The forecasts are saying it's going to be a glorious autumn! :)

      I'm glad you enjoyed seeing all the green! More photos to come!

  5. Wow! Lovely day for an awesome ride :) Looks amazing!

    I've been wondering lately about giving Apollo e-lytes post ride... would love your wisdom on the matter! On our trail rides he sweats a loooot, we mostly walk and trot but he's pretty forward.

    1. One serving of electrolytes afterwards is definitely not going to hurt if he sweats a lot and your trail rides are close to an hour in length and/or it is unusually hot and/or humid. :) Perfect Balance is a good brand to start with if you don't have a tub of electrolytes available on hand already. It is made to have the exact proportions of sodium:chloride:potassium that a horse loses naturally with sweating, and has no added sugar. My understanding is that the jury is out on whether an electrolyte should have added sugar or not. The general consensus that I've garnered from veterinary articles is that it's better if it doesn't have added sugar, but added sugar will make it more palatable to the horse.

      For trail rides over 2 hours or that will be more intense (more trotting than walking + cantering) you can also give a dose of electrolytes prior to riding.

      Electrolytes help them with drinking, energy levels (they will feel perkier while working and will recover faster), and also with preventing/minimizing soreness the day after a workout. :)

  6. Did you read the article on water in EN last month (or maybe month before?) Two things caught my eye. 1) horses don't like dipping their eyes under the brim of the bucket and will drink less when needing to do so. Perhaps she doesn't drink at the trailer because she doesn't want to lose sight of her surroundings and is too nervous to do so? 2) horses offered salt water first drink a lot more. I don't know what Horse Quencher is so maybe you have done this. Maybe try adding salt to one bucket? Gem doesn't drink at the trailer either so I'm not a lot of help but those were things that popped into my mind. Also, do you e lyte before your training rides when it is going to be hot? Pre loading at the barn before heading out may help solve the problem before it even starts.

    1. Yup, read the article. :) Hence why she is offered water in a low bucket. She still can see her surroundings even if she was drinking. She will not drink salt water. I loved that study and I tried the recommendations. She will not touch *anything* with salt in it. She won't even eat her grain if I sprinkle salt in it. Believe me, if there's a method out there, I have tried it! This mare was anhydrotic in South FL and electrolyting + getting her to just drink enough back then were a huge battle. She drinks MUCH better since moving to MD, and our elyte protocol is much more aggressive than it used to be: I elyte the day before if it's going to be really hot, the day of at the trailer, on arrival, after the ride at the trailer and again once we return home. For endurance rides I also elyte the entire week prior to the ride and the week after the ride. She is on Perform n' Win, which is what my region's #1 ride vet recommended personally.

    2. *All elytes are offered in soupy mashes. Lily will eat 1 dose of elytes in her mash at a time. Any more and I have to syringe directly. Gracie will eat up to 2 doses in her soupy mash. When in doubt, I offer a soupy mash without elytes just to get her to eat and drink, which I also offered on this day when she didn't want the elyte mash. *sigh* She can be frustrating to the point of enfuriating at times. Gracie is SO easy! She'll even eat pills as long as they're mixed with grain...

  7. Oh, the green, I've forgotten what that looks like! What a fun adventure, I'm glad you finally got to go back and explore with the only bad part being the lost whip!

    I do have a question. My horse won't drink at the trailer on rides so I just give him mash and we drive home (he somehow knows the difference between a day ride and an overnight.) We don't have the humidity here, but I've been told never to electrolyte a non-drinking/eating horse. Obviously it works fine for you, do you know that basis for that info, right, wrong or just opinion? Just curious, no judgment, you know your horse!😀

    1. I did it based on the recommendations of the ride vet that treated Lily when she crashed and burned at Fort Valley last year. I was told to elyte at 3-6 times what you normally would when it is humid, especially when riding a non-Arab. My horse kept failing at recovering last year because I kept treating her like an Arab being ridden in dry conditions. I absolutely cannot do that.

      I elyte with very soupy mashes: it's what I did at home before loading up and at the trailer before riding. She had drunk and eaten on trail and our long stop at the creek was only 30 minutes prior to arriving at the trailer. I was surprised she didn't want her typical mash because that was the first time she had turned her nose up at it. So I gave her a triple dose of Perform n Win + a double dose of potassium and immediately loaded up and headed home. The park is literally 10 minutes from the barn. She already looked MUCH better upon unloading at the barn. She immediately got bathed, fed hay (which she ate) and turned out while my husband unloaded the trailer. She drank immediately after being released.

      Hence why I wish someone would write a book about elyting endurance horses in humid climates! It is sooooo different from how it's done out West.

  8. Yay! So good to kick those little superstitious demons out - last week I went and rode past the spot where I came off badly a few years ago ;)

    It sounds like Lily ate and drank really well for most of the day, just not at the very end. Maybe she got that little bit too hot or tired at the end, or maybe the belly-full from the creek added to the heat had her feeling blah? Glad you got it sorted quickly without too much trouble, sounds like the extra 10 mins of recovery made a big difference. Also, it took my horse nearly a year to completely recover his energy after he was sick but I didn't realise until afterwards because there was nothing specific 'wrong', he just wasn't building fitness well.

    The most helpful and honest electrolyte info I've read was Aarene's post: http://haikufarm.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/in-which-electrolytes-are-discussed-and.html

    1. Isn't it great when we can get rid of those superstitious demons? ;)

      Yeah, she did great up until the end. I probably wouldn't have worried if it hadn't been so different from her norm: historically she's never had issues with eating after returning to the trailer.

      Thankfully her fitness has been wonderful despite the month off. She's always been great at holding her fitness (she had over 2 months off this past winter when I got injured and came back to work as if she hadn't missed a day), but it was just *really* hot on this day and she has never been super heat tolerant horse. I had wanted to compete her at the Old Dominion LD this past June but the forecast had called for heat indexes in the 100s, so we passed: even at the LD distance she would not have completed with that kind of heat.

      We honestly made the mistake of not checking the forecast beforehand on this particular day: we'd been having some really nice weather (low humidity, 80s during the day, low 60s at night) up until the heat wave that started on this day. Blegh. Note has been taken for the future, thanks to the blog. :)

      I LOVE that post of Aarene's! I had commented at the time and do have it bookmarked because with Fiddle she basically does exactly what I was told to do with Lily by the ride vets at Fort Valley last year. I had read and printed Dr. Garlinghouse's articles too. :) I've been slowly trending more towards electrolyting that much. At Foxcatcher this past April I pretty much elyted *exactly* like that, except for during the loops. Lily took 15 minutes to fully come down to parameter heart rate wise despite walking the last 2 miles into camp. After that I decided she will get elyted during competition loops in the future. I'm still meaning to use Pro CMC as a carrier when syringing...

  9. Glad to see things are somewhat back to normal! And if you don't mind, I'd like to pick your brain about boots since I am going to be shopping very soon and can't quite decide what ones to go with lol

  10. I'm glad you made good on that trip at last <3

  11. Huzzah for the trip and double huzzah for a centered blog header photo ;-)

  12. yay glad you made it out! looks like a super fun ride :)