|Last time we did this, it was with a group of ER vet techs. It is only fitting that now we do it with a group of ER nurses.|
Yes, my husband is a murse.
|Ready to go!|
|Lots of tube sharing, which didn't exactly go well most of the time.|
|One of many breaks.|
|We tried to stick together for as long as possible, but lots of rocks = we didn't all fit at once through some of the narrow strips of water between them.|
|I adore this river.|
The Potomac, as seen from the river itself, near Harpers Ferry, WV.
The next morning we got up at 7:00 am to go do another marathon ride, this time on horseback. :) Both of these events had been planned far in advance back-to-back. Yes we are crazy.
At the barn we rushed to get everything in the trailer, which meant Charles forgot Gracie's breastplate and I only shoved one boot on Lily (she has an abscess on her left hind heel that is healing and I wanted to make sure it was protected) before saying, "Fuck it" and loading the horses up and heading out. There would have been more careful preparation involved but Sugarloaf is much closer to us now than it was at the stallion barn, so off we went.
Our timing was perfect because we arrived exactly at the same time as Gail. Even with all of us feeding the horses hay and mashes prior, everyone else was ready before I finished trimming, applying mueller tape, and booting Lily's remaining 3 hooves. Which meant it took me an hour to get my horse ready, because I hadn't really booted her all around since...Fort Valley last October! Whoops...
We had chosen a really lovely day to trail ride. It was sunny with 0% chance of rain with low humidity and temps in the upper 70s-low 80s. A cool breeze made its way through the trees, making it feel like we were in AC when in the shade.
|Road towards the Yellow Trail (horse trail)|
|Soybean field next to the road.|
Lily and Gracie took turns leading during the first loop. Lily was a rock star about drinking from pretty much every single water crossing. Not just tiny sips but big gulps of water. Each time we waited until she was finished before continuing on our way.
Somehow, despite having ridden here 2-3 times already, we had managed to forget how rocky some portions of this trail are. I remembered the long stretch at the beginning (almost 2 miles) and another stretch around the middle of the loop, but I had forgotten that the end of the loop is also rocky (duh, since it loops back to where it starts).
|Climbing up the trail as it wound its way around rocks.|
This would be Gracie's first time arriving at the trailer, taking a break, and then heading back out. She enjoyed the break, though she looked completely stunned when I went to slip the bit back in her mouth. Poor girl. She had a case of the afternoon doldrums heading back out but soon woke up after our first canter through the woods. Except Nimo also woke up and then wouldn't let Gracie pass. ;) It's a good exercise for her to realize that she won't always be able to pass the horse in front of her. And it is also a dose of her own medicine: Gracie is known for blocking horses behind her from passing, not by kicking or making faces, but by simply effectively moving over to prevent the horse behind her from going by. Now she knows what that feels like! Haha...
We did a lot more leapfrogging during this second loop than on the first one, since everyone knew the trail by then. Throughout the ride, each horse got to be in the middle, at the end or in the lead, and everyone kept their wits. All three of these guys get along really well and it is always extra fun to be on and around horses that have brains, are good with other horses, and are trail savvy. Yes: it is possible to have two mares and a gelding riding together with NO snarky faces or threats! ;)
On both loops we encountered plenty of hikers and dogs both on leash and off leash, but everyone was excellent about giving us the right of way and taking hold of their dogs. Everyone ooed and aahed over the pretty horses, since our group of three had something of every flavor: the big drafty-looking black baroque horse with the curly ears, the golden gaited creature with the flowing blonde mane, and the dainty dark TBish mare with the blue hooves.
The only thing we didn't get was a pic of all three of us riding together!
I asked Gail to get a pic of Charles and I riding together on our horses. I explained that I only had one pic of us on our horses, but the hubs had been bareback and judging by his expression in the photo, his balls hurt.
Gail did a fantastic job of patiently getting a great shot of us together, which you will find in the blog header above. Here are the outtakes, because my husband has an attention span of exactly 0.8 seconds, which is not a long time to get the phone camera focused and hit the button.
|It took him a minute to get Gracie to face the camera.|
|Guess what he was saying here.|
|Still slouching, though it's my favorite.|
|Not slouching but he stuck his leg out. Charles wth?|
|Here Lily decided we should go back on trail and had just bumped into Gracie. Note Gracie's look of indignation and Charles watching Lily to make sure she didn't try it again.|
|Gracie still looking offended and Charles looking at Gracie.|
|Everyone looks good, except for my fidgeting mare and Charles who forgot to grin. |
He likes to pretend to be a serious person.
The rest of the loop flew by, as much as possible given the multiple times we slowed to a walk to negotiate rocks. Lily drank at every. single. stream. She also drank at puddles. She drank deeply. And she stayed quite peppy throughout this second loop. Once she was awake, Gracie was very game too.
There is a section of trail where it winds around the side of a hill. It is almost double track and cut into the rock, with carved ledges in the earth to create steps of sorts: it seems perfect for mountain biking. Lily and Gracie love taking this section at a canter because the steps allow them to bound up the hill with ease, so we did. Charles and I made it to the top of the hill and stopped, turned around and realized Nimo was not behind us. We waited a couple of minutes, expecting to see him trotting up the hill any second now, but he didn't materialize.
So we walked the girls back down the hill to make sure that Gail and Nimo were okay. They were: Nimo was just coming up at a walk. Sometimes he'll get motivated to trot up a hill if the horses in front are cantering but otherwise, he prefers to tackle hill climbs at a walk. He is a boss at trotting downhill though!
We continued on our way, with Nimo picking up a trot and maintaining it once he realized we were aiming for the trailers. We did some leap frogging at speed, where the horses all took turns passing one another while trotting. Gracie took the lead in this section, then suddenly halted and stood to the side of the trail. Lily was next in line, with Nimo behind her. We flew past G-Mare as I announced, "Gracie says, 'Someone else's turn to lead!'" That was exactly it: we trotted past and Gracie and Charles picked up the trot behind Nimo.
We walked the last mile back to the trailers, shaving about 10 minutes off the time from the first loop. We had a great time, except for the turtle incident, which we all felt pretty awful about. :( Gail was so upset we changed the subject to other things.
The horses all looked great at the trailers, and Lily's Gloves did an EXCELLENT job about staying on her feet! I didn't have to dismount a single time to replace them! Lily looked much better than the week before at Little Bennett, despite having done a good 6 additional miles this time.
Both mares turned their noses up at water offered. Gracie dug into her elyte mash and Lily again refused hers, despite not adding elytes to this final mash. I'm not sure why she is refusing it post-ride...it's the same stuff that she eagerly eats at home, same thing I offer when we initially unload after arriving. She did, however, dig into hay this time, so at least there was that. She also urinated and it looked concentrated (dark yellow), despite drinking constantly at every available water source on trail. Which tells me I was on the right track at Little Bennett when I decided to elyte her more, and also tells me we need to continue playing around with electrolytes...
I have been using Perform n' Win at the recommendation of Dr. Arthur King, the ride vet at Fort Valley last year that helped with Lily when she crashed and burned after completing. Despite eating and drinking on trail, Lily was insanely dehydrated by the end of the ride and the vets' conclusions were that she needed more potassium. Upon our arrival at the vet check, they could hear the water sloshing around in her gut but it wasn't making its way into her tissues. When she still wasn't eating or drinking and still hadn't fully recovered 2 hours after the ride, IV fluids with potassium were recommended and I went with the recommendation. Within another 2 hours after the fluids, Lily looked like a new horse.
Dr. King helped develop the Perform n' Win formula himself. Ever since then, I have been giving single doses the day before haul-out rides, before loading up, after unloading, and on this occasion, also at our mini hold, with a double or triple dose post-ride after returning home. Dr. King's recommendation was to give up to 3x dose on very humid days, at all intervals where you would usually electrolyte. So I'm still well below his maximum recommendation. I also need to stop being so afraid of potassium and be better about making NuSalt be 1/3 of all of Lily's elyte doses, also per his recommendations.
If that doesn't make a difference, I will experiment with Endura-Max, which Dr. King had also recommended as an alternative and it is also what Aarene uses with her big, dark, fast, non-Arab endurance mare Fiddle (seriously, go read that post if you have a non-Arab and have questions about electrolytes. It's awesome!) I had not tried Endura-Max because it is harsher on their mouths and stomachs, but I can certainly try using Pro CMC as a carrier for oral dosing with this particular electrolyte brand.
Gail and I had a conversation about body condition. People have been telling her that Nimo is too thin. We figured it is probably because he doesn't have a dressage booty at the moment; he has an endurance booty. You can't feel ribs on him. You have to press really hard to feel ribs on him, actually. I was telling her I have the opposite problem with Lily, and people will still say she is too thin: she develops a spectacular, muscular topline, shoulders and hindquarters, but in the process loses every ounce of fat on her body (GOD I wish I had that problem!...), which means her ribs will be visible in regular lighting.
|Lily at the last trot-out of the Old Dominion 50.|
You can see her ribs here but note that she is in no way emaciated...
|Immediately after, with poulticed legs and stuffing her face in camp.|
See? All muscle. She doesn't even have dents behind her shoulder blades: her whole back is filled in with muscle.
The only difference is the lighting.
|The next morning.|
Again, with this light you can see ribs. But note also the muscling of her hindquarters.
Also, I am incredibly skilled at taking photos of her that make her appear butt-high.
She is actually pretty level IRL.
I had not tried protein, though, other than offering alfalfa, which she will scarf. Seeing as my alfalfa bales are gone (Lily consumed them during her stall rest from her most recent injury) and I haven't been able to buy alfalfa bales at local feed stores (only bagged forage, which she will not eat either. WHAT THE HELL MARE.) So crazy me, I bought a bag of Triple Crown 30% supplement and have added 2 lbs/day to Lily's grain. I'm afraid to tell you guys how much she likes it for fear of jinxing it, so I will say nothing.
These are her "before" pics:
|Most awful conformation shot ever. But it shows her muscling in poor lighting...|
(And again, butt-high...seriously, her hips are not taller than her withers!)
Anyway, we all loaded up the horses and went our separate ways. Once back at the barn, we unloaded the girls and immediately walked them over to the field waterer. Yup, they drank! They had baths and ate well afterwards.
And here are our stats for both loops:
|Second loop. Compare to first: you can tell where the rocky parts are!|
Another great day in the books. :) Despite the humans being insanely sore the next day!