After riding a handful of 25s, and 35s it was time to move up. I came in 9th place out of 70 something riders about a month ago so it was time.
Gunner and I are ready after a year of training and conditioning. I had a few ups and downs, like saddle fitting and finding a bit. I was using a short-s hackamore but really found I need to bump it up stronger for the first loop. However, I wasn't able to use my new myler combo bit because my bit hangers were too long. I opted to use what I had been and the hack worked- ok. But it became to slide lower during the day and he almost rubbed it off at a water trough.
My girlfriend and I were on a quest to ride 50 miles and by gosh we were going to do it. We traveled 6+ hrs to a place 6 miles south of Erhardt SC. It's always nice when where you are going doesn't even have an address or a town. The plantation was wonderful, shaded and peat moss handing from the trees. It looked like the perfect place to ride 50 miles. Beautiful groomed sand trails and lots of shade!
We vetted in, mostly A's and a B on gut sound. He didn't eat like I wanted him too, but lesson learned for next time.
Two Junior riders asked us to sponsor them. I tried to tell them we had no idea what to do and it was our first 50, but they were insistant and then told us, "We can help you." So of course we let them "tag along" with us.
The next morning they led the entire first 14 miles, asking repeatedly if we were "ok." After the first loop, they kindly told us they didn't want to push our horses so they found someone else to ride with. They were fantastic and gave us so many pointers and suggestions. I don't think I could have controlled my horse if his nose hadn't been planted into the cute spotted rump of the 1/2 appaloosa mare. This horse was fantastic, if her rider said 7, the horse went 7 mph, if she said 9, it went 9mph!! I was impressed beyond measure.
The second loop, my friend and I were on our own. We trotted steadily along the 11 mile stretch. At one water hole around 9am, there was a spotter. He said it was 87 degrees already. The heat and humidy were bad. It was almost hard to breath in deeply. I was concerned what the mid day temp and sun would be like.
We kept up out hold times and were back on trail for the 3rd loop. Horses trotted steadily and drank like champs. My friend was in pain and having issues with her shins and something rubbing. It steadily became worse over the miles and we had to walk/trot to finish. I looked down at my horse and realized he was white, not the dark black color he was when soaked with sweat. The humidty was greater than my horse could sweat to cool. I was getting a little worried he would get dehydrated, but he was drinking.
Crossing the finish line was amazing, even if we did come in almost last. We completed 50 miles around 8 hrs. I rubbed his head and ears where he was itchy from sweat. I thanked him and thanked God for my opportunity. I felt like I had just won. We held out an extra 20 mins on a hold for my horse to eat. He wasn't eating like I wanted, but he pulsed down and was drinking. Our junior riders finished about an hr ahead of us and helped us crew when we needed it.
We had never had anyone help us crew and didn't know how valuable it was. I am shopping around for someone to help next ride. I cant' wait till my kids are old enough to help. It was a lifesaver to have someone sponge my horse.
The horses seemed ok, we bathed and cooled out completely then let them rest.
The awards meeting was fun, and I was so proud of my horse. I was elated we actually rode 50 miles- that is huge!!
Returning to a colicy horse after the meeting was unexpected. He looked tucked up and not himself. He was trying to go down and acting painful. I had a vet look at him and banamine worked. We think there was a slight issue with ulcers- that were causing his sour stomach.. He was acting sulky when we got there and wouldn't eat like I wanted.
Lesson learned for next time, administer a pre-ride ulcerguard, prior enough to be out of his system by the ride.
It sounds like it would work to calm the acid receptor pre-ride. I can't understand why Ulcerguard is a forbidden substance when trailering and endurnace riding is the most stressful situation you can put a horse in, not to mention the breed of choice being arabs, which do tend to be more prone to stress and more sensitive.
I am so proud of my horse, after arriving home and drinking tons more, he is 100% better. It was scary though to think of what it could have been like.
Lesson learned- watch the little signs and flags along the way. Think of preventitive measures for your horse and take care of him. Talk to your vet about stress on your horse and consider asking AERC to rethink the policy on ulcerguard meds. They aren't to assist your horse in being faster, stronger, but to protect his gut and his health.