Thursday, May 7, 2015

A 50 to Boot

Or the continuing adventures of the Spookaloosa

Angry Spookaloosa after Roz left on the Friday 25 

Sometimes on the trail your mind is filled with thoughts and sometimes it is silent, you are focused on your horse and how he is doing. I was doing a lot of listening, feeling and just enjoying the time in the saddle on the trail with Quick. If I had any doubts about this little Appy, they are gone now. He is one tough Spookaloosa. 

Lest we forget that he is a Spookaloosa.

These past few months have been rough for me, a lot has gone on and much of that maybe me taking things too hard on myself. Quick was doing great the beginning of the year. He had Ground Control shoes put on him and we were doing once a week good conditioning rides. Unfortunately at the next shoeing the farrier and I had a misunderstanding. The previous farrier had left his toes long, while everything else looked good his toes were running away. I don't understand that farriers trimming technique, and I have seen other farriers use it too. They take off wall from the top, but not like I have seen others do it and not the I way I trim either. So I asked the farrier to bring Quicks toes back and get him more under himself. Well he did. And I am not certain Quick didn't have a hot nail either, but he was lame and wasn't getting sounder. So I pulled the shoes. He was sound with boots on. I let him sit until he was 100% sound barefoot. 
I'm not sure who was going crazier, him or me from not riding.

So after a couple weeks he was 100% sound barefoot on rocks we went back to work. We put in a couple good rides, and lost a boot up on Lowell Butte. We hadn't had much trouble with boots before, we did most of the conditioning for OR 100 in boots while I was farrier shopping. 
That was about the time the lip abscess happened. I went to get Quick out of the field and his lip was swollen on the one side. He wouldn't let me touch it or see what was going on. Which is unlike Quick. He plays with his lips and his tongue all the time. So we went to the vets. He had to have it opened up and allow the puss to drain out.

So all bets on going to Grizzly Mountain were out.

Quick recovered from his lip abscess and I had decided to try the first farrier again. Unfortunately I had trimmed his feet only a few days before because I hadn't made that decision yet. The thought of doing Still Memorial in boots was terrifying....
Well another close nail later and having to have Quicks front shoes pulled again. He had no sensitivity to the nails and no reaction to the hoof testers. So a close nail is our best guess. So now two shoeings I have ended up pulling the fronts. Kind of hurts the bank account. 

So it looked like I would be booting for Still Memorial anyway, at least up front. 
I was terrified that I would loose a boot on that log rocky downhill by Still Hill. 

I ordered a set of EasyBoot originals from a local feed store. Their provider was back ordered on 0s so I ended up ordering them straight from EasyCare.  Brand spanking new boots. 

Quick and I had one test flight in those new boots. I had wanted to do the tough rocky trail at Mt Pisgah but things didn't work out so I rode up Bear Mt instead. Everything was good. All I could do was pray to the Boot Gods for luck that they would stay on. We had done a lot of conditioning rides in our old boots, but they wouldn't last for 50 miles. The treads are pretty worn down on them.

So off we went.

On Friday Paula did the 25 on Roz and I got ot meet DeWayne's new Appy stallion Nim. Meanwhile Quick was super angry that he couldn't go out with Roz. He even untied his lead rope that was on the corral a couple times. He is so funny. I took Bart for a short ride, it ended up being short because the trail we were on was close to the trail the 25 milers were coming back on. Poor little guy wanted to go with them back to camp! You can't blame him, we were out alone and there were horses flying down the trail towards camp. He listened to me and we turned around.


I took Quick out for a short ride that evening to stretch his legs and give the boots another go. Outcheck box was packed, saddle fitted with two boot bags and whatever I thought I would need. A multi-tool in case a boot came loose, hoof pick, tape, VetWrap.... I could only find 3 syringes for electrolytes. Two with me one in the outcheck box. I decided I would try to top 10 the ride since there was only 27 entries. I figured I would go for about the same finishing time as I had the previous year where we placed 6th at 6 hrs and 18 minutes.

5 o'clock came pretty early, I fed Quick then got myself ready. I wrapped his hooves with athletic tape then vetwrap over the top. Something for the teeth of the EasyBoots to grab. The VetWrap because I have had Journey's boots spin (she probably should be a smaller size but when I originally fitted her she had a lot of flare) and the teeth cut into her coronet band. :( So with her she always gets her hooves vetwrapped with boots. I have never had that happen with Quick, but I would rather play it safe than sorry. I wrapped electrical tape around the clip on the boots 3 times, then put a piece of blue duct tape over the top. Oh yeah, and I had spray painted the boots blue so I would know they were mine if I happened to loose one. Saddled up and we were ready to go.

Roz was hollering to Quick the entire time, Quick was hollering back, hollow, inverted and not listening to me in the slightest. I attempted a warm up, but didn't get much out of it. Once we were not trying to warm up, Quick settled a bit. I picked a woman on a bay horse as one that would be going for a top 5. After a while you kind of get a feeling of which riders are going for it, there are the ones I know, and there are a bunch of people I do not know.

Trail was open!

Barrak Blakeley was leading the way with his father Wasch right behind, the woman on the bay and then myself. I had a fire breathing pinto behind me. All I can say is that the Blakeleys are amazing, both Wasch and Barrak got off at one point and were running with their horses. And faster than they had been trotting. Mind blown, I hate running. We were headed up the hill right before the drop towards Still Hill and my best guess is Wasch's horse lost a boot, he was booted behind. Wasch pulled up and told us to go around. Barrak stopped as well, the woman on the bay said she didn't want to lead and I didn't even need to ask before Quick jumped to the front.

With Quick on point we went down and around, the pinto was still with us and I wasn't sure where the others were. We set a good pace, not smoking fast by any means but good. After we went through the gate for the flats towards Cyrus out check I asked the guy with the fire breathing pinto to go in front. He hadn't wanted to pass before, but Quick needed a short break from being out in front. He set off at a flying trot and the little Spotty pony was right behind.

Quick has his crazy hair on!

Once we were on the dirt road leading to Cyrus a gal on a big chestnut with a german martingale passed us at a hand gallop. Quick was after her. I kept my eye on my heart rate monitor and instead of fighting him, let him go. We caught up, the gal went for it and was going faster as we neared the hill right before you drop into the vet check. I pulled an angry Quick up, he was going to get them, and walked him in. Had his bit dropped and girth slightly loosened as we came in to the vet check.

The big chestnut had tack off and was being sponged down. I let Quick drink and sponged him and when my heart rate monitor said he dropped into the 60s I asked for a pulse.

Quick was down. We were the first ones down.

We vetted through. Quick was interested in lawnmowering. Wasch Blakeley was putting back shoes on his horse. The pinto took a while to come down as did the big chestnut. I had felt that my stirrups were uneven and sure enough, one was longer than the other. I made sure to fix that.

And off we went again after our 30 minute hold was done.

We were out with a little bay mare with a german martingale I believe. We were not blazing saddles, by any means. The bay who I picked out in the beginning caught us at a canter with the pinto not far behind. We were out into the flats and cooking. I electrolyted Quick at the trough after the second road crossing. Once we got towards the single track heading back into camp Quick asked if he could pass the gal on the big bay. So we did. He danced down the trail. Super handy, around corners and the whoop-de-doos.

I hopped off of him as we came into camp, he pulsed down and we vetted through. I put him in his corral to eat and let Leigh and Mollie out of the trailer to potty. Leigh had probably done about the same amount of mileage going back and forth from window to window in the trailer looking for me. He still has abandonment issues. If we left the truck door open he would jump in, he wasn't getting left behind again. (that is at least what I figured happened to him when I found him) I put them away since I needed to check boots on Quick and get myself ready to go out again.

Boots hadn't turned or moved at all! I reapplied the electrical tape and duct tape. We were good to go for another 25 miles! The cool thing about the boots and Ground Control horseshoes is that Quick had both traction over the rocks and didn't really feel the sharp points. He just flew over them.

We went out with the little bay mare following us. The draw from camp and Roz whinning at us was strong. I put my leg on and we went. Right as we passed the photographer Quick reaffirmed his title as Spookaloosa. Huge spook, I put my leg on and he jumped whatever it was that he was spooking at and off we went. He was giving everything the hairy eyeball. The best option when this happens is to keep him in a canter. He is not able to screech to a halt and spin or spook when he is cantering, he just jumps to the other side of the trail and switches leads. He spooked a few more times as we continued along. The gal on the little bay commented about how well I stuck those spooks!

Photo of my ride photo. I am waiting to get a digital copy. 

I don't always stick them all. It was just a couple months ago when Quick dumped me not long after we started a conditioning ride. I have some things going for me; youth, natural stickability- but I don't just hope that I can stick his spooks. I work hard to be able to stick them. There is lots of work two point work to strengthen my lower leg, lots of riding without stirrups and sitting trot. Denny Emmerson is always writing about how "Good Riders Don't Bounce" or to be a good rider you need 3 things: A good Seat, A good Seat, and a good seat. My drive and determination did not start with wanting to be able to stick Quick's spooks, no it started by wanting to be a better rider for my Thoroughbred Journey. It has been only recently that she cannot bounce me (Journey has had a lot of pain issues and injuries that I am continually trying to work through and help correct and make her comfortable. It has been finding the right people to work on her that has made all the difference.) That is the result of conditioning Quick for the 100 last year, all the work starting babies and quieting my seat and riding other people's horses. I have started to see the results of all the work I have put in. I am far from perfect, but my goal is to help the horses I ride. And to do so I need to be a better rider, horsewoman and to learn more.

Looking out at Still Hill. 

Back to the ride: A lot of rock had come up on the trail. We passed some of the trail riders on the red loop and walked a good bit of the way just because there was so much rock!! As we entered the flats after Still Hill Quick was telling me he was tired. He tends to have a mid day drag. I looked at my heart rate monitor, it was reading 80. Well he couldn't be that tired, so I asked for a good trot and off we went. His heart rate didn't go past 110 while we were trotting. The little bay mare was still with us and we traded leading a couple times. The other gal with the taller bay was not far behind us. I think she caught us as we were coming into Cyrus for the final time. Quick pulsed down well again and we vetted through. Paula was out a the vet check and asked how Quick was doing. I think I felt he was more tired than he was. There were two people that I was concerned about as far as catching us. The taller bay gelding and the person who had just come into the vet check, someone who has more than fifteen times the mileage that Quick and I have combined.

I had only one dose of electrolytes with me and I dropped one of my boot bags. Since I hadn't had any issues with them and not to mention I had been checking them religiously. Off we went on the last leg.

The little bay was right behind us. I asked her to lead out since Quick decided he was in no hurry to leave the vet check. The tall bay caught us rather quickly, taking off at a canter. I got the impression the gal was trying to loose us, but Quick was game. I kept checking his heart rate. He was good.

I contemplated on and off whether or not I should make a run at the lead, finally I made the decision to, but if the gal was going to go all out racing, I wasn't going to do that. There was no reason to. The little bay mare trailed us. We made it through the flats and back into the single track. I used my last electrolyte at the trough after you cross the road. The gal with the bay slowed at a couple of the downhill places suddenly. I had to pull Quick up short. I asked him to go at a wide spot in the trail, she saw and her horse beat us to where the trail narrowed again. She slowed at a couple more of the downhill spots, not as much as the first time. As we were coming down into ride camp she slowed at another area, and really I thought to myself just go already! The was a wide spot so I sent Quick around. She called out that she wasn't going to race and not to hurt my horse.Quick had picked up a canter so I pulled him back to a trot down the hill. Not far from the end of the trail Quick petered out. She cantered past us and into ride camp in front of us. Oh well, she had the gamier horse. Quick gave it a good shot but like I said, I wasn't going to push him I would ask, and what he gave me was what I would take.

Everyone was waiting for us. We dumped saddles and began cooling the horses down. Hannah Summers helped me with Quick, reminding me to get the water off, because it holds heat. Quick's heart rate came down pretty quickly. But the goal was to have a good CRI, so the lower his heart rate the better. He was a little stiff but not quite off at our trot out. I figured it was probably because some stupid person didn't check her stirrups before she got on at 6:30 in the morning. He did about 13 miles with an off balance rider. He also interfered behind, which means he will have to wear boots from now on, splint boots.

Quick is an inherently lazy horse, it takes 2 people to really get him moving while free schooling for fitness. Otherwise he tries to stop and change direction on you or you just can't get him moving enough to get him breathing hard. Even though we have worked on our trot outs, he still drags. I should have moved him around more for our 1 hr check, which I was late to because I heard 45 instead of 35 after.... I was sure I wasn't going to win BC anyway. I figured it would be the gal with the little bay mare she hadn't done any racing and had been pulsing down as well as Quick had been.

I settled Quick in his corral and took off his boots and poulticed his legs. I left him alone so he could nap and munch on the food I had set out for him. Every time I would go check on him he would ask for more food, having eaten it all. So heck if he was going to eat I was going to feed him! Quick can be a very bad eater, and if it is a sign that he has learned to start eating after 50 miles then, maybe he will chow down for the longer rides I hope to do. Roz also begged for food every time I gave Quick more. Little Hobbit horses!

You have more food for me?

I must say I was surprised that Wasch or Lois didn't catch us. Barrak's horse came up sore and like a good sponsor and parent Wasch took him back to the outcheck. Lois wasn't far behind us at the last outcheck, and Mocha is a fast 100 mile horse. It was a ride that everything seemed to fall in our favor. The Blakeleys were not setting a smoking pace, they have fast horses! They top tened Tevis last year and Barrak won the Haggin Cup. We were able to set the pace for a lot of the ride, and it was not smoking fast. Quick is easily capable of doing a 6 hour 50, I have no doubts about that. Honestly, I wouldn't be doing 6 hour 50s if I hadn't gone to ANCER last year. I wouldn't have pushed for more. Maybe I would be going to try and top ten this year, but for ANCER if I was spending all of the $$ to go down to California I wanted to be competitive. So that is why I started asking for more from Quick.

I want to do longer distances with Quick. 50s are fun and all, but I need a different challenge. We did our first 100 last year and I plan to do another this year. I want to get a decade team award with him too. I don't care how many miles we end up getting together, it wont be a huge amount because lets face it, I am not independently wealthy. Everyone says he is a nice horse. Yes he is nice, he is really darn nice now. Yet only a few years ago he was labeled dangerous, was great at lawn darting riders, and some considered him almost ruined. He may never get over his amazing athletic ability to make lawn darts out of riders, but he is not ruined, and has turned into one heck of an endurance horse. Sometimes I wish he was easier, that I didn't have to keep my heels down, legs underneath of me and ride defensively for however many miles we are riding that day. But then again, easy is boring.

Apparently I need a little Spookaloosa in my life.

The moral of the story is, you can do 50 miles in EasyBoots, AND be competitive. 

Viva Quick!!