Sunday, January 1, 2012

NEDA New Years Ride, with yard art!

All I want to do is go play Skyrim but I know you, my loyal masses, are just dying to know how today's ride went, so I am making the sacrifice of my valuable time to write this.

So we went and rocked another NEDA ride. The hill work is definitely paying off.

Here's last month's ride - exact same course, except that this time we did the first loop backwards. 3:20 moving time, about 8.5 mph for the trot intervals, and she got quite tired at the end and we walked the last two miles or so. The weather was about 5 degrees warmer, and I didn't carry water for her on the trail.

Here's today's ride. 2:30 moving time (a freakin' hour faster!), her trot/gait was more like 9-9.5 mph, and she got very strong in the last mile and I had to keep fighting her to not canter in. I brought one of those little blue bags of water and squirted the crest of her neck every time we walked. I don't know if the cold water cooled her off and perked her up, or if she was just pissed I kept getting her wet, but she did recover faster.

We absolutely roared through the first loop. We fell in with Beth K (I think, you know I'm awful at ID'ing people and she was always 10' ahead) and her friend and just cleaned it up. Dixie was hot and tired at the pulse-and-go, so I said bye to them and stayed in camp for 20 minutes. I gave her more diluted elytes and tried to get her to eat, but she was more interested in watching horses come in and leave. I hand-fed her some grain and she ate a bit of alfalfa, and she didn't seem too tired so we headed back out.

I really thought I'd overdone it on the first loop and we'd do the second one at like 5 mph, but she picked her head up, perked up her ears, and power trotted on out of camp. There was a horse about a half mile ahead of us, traveling just a skosh slower than we were, and we gradually caught up to her over several miles.

About 12 miles in, Dixie interfered and clipped her RF heel bulb. She sort of stumbled and took one lame step, and I had just enough time to think "oh dear god no" before she was back trotting perfectly sound. She didn't take another goofy step, but I found the tiny wound (and tiny blood drops all over her back legs) after the ride, so I think that's when it happened.

We caught up to the lady on the grey at about 14 miles and walked for a half mile talking to her. She had one of those hysterically bad-tempered mares - the mare was very curious about us coming up behind her, and really wanted us to catch up, but as soon as Dixie got abreast of her it was all snarky bitey face and mad ears. (Dixie didn't make faces. She just never makes faces at other horses anymore. <3 her!) We were power trotting but I managed to get a picture of the yard-art boat for yall. Yard art boat, 2

Here's a yard art wagon:
Yard art wagon

One for my dad, who makes birdhouses (go buy one if you're in Memphis!)
Birdhouse (not in soul)

Somebody else - a guy I should know, but don't - caught up and passed us so we all started trotting again. Dixie and I hit one more mentally bad patch at about 17.5 miles - there's a quarter mile of rough gravel road and it seems like forever to camp. I just made her walk (while her buddies ran away, oh no!) and by the time we got to the end of the gravel she was recovered and ready to rock again. She sprang back into the power trot and we caught them at the hill, then they cantered the last flat mile into camp and I insisted we trot. I have a (totally justifiable!) fear of letting her canter when she's tired now.

She was soaked when we got in, so I blanketed her and feasted on deep-fried turkey. Yes, again! The ride had a crazy big turnout - 49 starters, 31 of them doing the 20 mile distance. Yay! Still, the only people I saw were the ones I mentioned. It felt very solitary out there.

She was still wet and getting cold when I was ready to leave, so I threw the waterproof on top of the cooler and got her home. I left the cooler on for an hour after we got here, but it was cold and wet, so I decided it was doing more harm than good. I'd like to have a second blanket! Gotta check and see if anything's on sale. When I went out and pulled the cooler, she was in very good spirits. I'm very happy - we are tangibly improving!

Physically, it was a really awful ride for me. I was cold the whole time, my knees and pelvis hurt, and it was one of those rides where it felt like Dixie was going to trot my uterus loose. My knees hurt because I ate quesadillas every day for a week over Christmas, and grain/wheat really does make my joints inflamed and sore. I was cold because I dressed optimistically - the November ride was just a bit warmer, but the sun was hotter and I ended up taking off my windbreaker and riding in a tank top in November. That was so much fun that I wore the same clothes this time, but I sweated and my windbreaker got clammy and then I froze. Ahh well - next time I'll wear more wool and less synthetics, and get my eating right again. It was a beautiful day to be out, and Dixie's performance was a huge boost for me.

Because she's not an Arab, I always wonder if we can do this, if we'll ever get faster than a 10 hour 50, if I'm training her right, yadda yadda. (Not to mention the tendon thing too, but I'll drive myself insane if I worry about that so I try hard not to think about it.) That's why I'm so obsessive about the GPS stats - I really can't tell if we're getting better til I go back and look over my data. Today was a big success!

I know this is the world's longest post already but I wanted to add a shot of her LF after the ride. Should I smear some thrush goo in her frog or does it look ok?
20 miles barefoot


  1. Nice! Good for you guys. It's a funny juxtaposition when things are going well with your horse but you aren't feeling too hot.

    If it were my mare I would hit the thrush goop, but then she seems to be quite prone to it and I can't let any bit of black or smell happen for fear of it developing. The couple small rains in November had her in steady thrush :-S I clean her hooves daily and spray Vetericyn when that's the case, but with December being dry she is currently fine. Is Dixie prone to it in general?

  2. jealous, jealous, JEALOUS! And that hoof looks awesome to me--compared to Swampish feet, there is NOTHING thrushy there! ;-)

    Too bad about being cold. I always think I've got the whole "weather thing" nailed down, and it's just not possible. Most often, I make some good guesses.

  3. Way To Go!!!

    I see no need for thrush medicine, but you know in2paints started spraying Lilly's frogs with Apple Cider Vinegar and the cracks in her frogs improved, so I tried it and definitely saw an improvement. If it's the crack you are worried about...other than that, Dixie's feet look awesome. Wished ALL of my horses had that big of a frog.

  4. If you are talking about that little hard on it. If she flinches, or a little goo comes out of it, treat for thrush. Otherwise, those are some rock on looking little hoofies ☺

  5. Thrush goo not required IMO. Interesting that her heels just haven't uncontracted that last little bit to open up that central cleft. I wonder why?

    Lol @ the uterus comment!! Also, quesadillas are worth the pain, right? LOVE quesadillas.

  6. Fun to hear about your ride. Sounds like you did great. Though I can relate to the being cold taking some of the fun out of it. So, here's a question. If Dixie's a gaited horse, and her trot makes you hurt, can you move into a different gait that's smoother? I don't have that option on my QHs, but I met a gal on the beach the other day, riding some sort of black and white paint gaited horse (I thought of you immediately), and she was gaiting away down the sand in some obviously very smooth gait that covered the ground at about the speed of a trot. Not being knowledgable about this stuff, I had no idea what it was. It looked like fun, though.

    I think Dixie's hoof looks fine, but I'm no expert. I'm also in the "If it ain't broke don't mess with it" camp, having seen a sizable amount of problems caused by treating things that weren't really a problem--and then the treatment created a problem. But again, I'm no expert on feet.

  7. Dixie's quote, "And I thought her uterus was going to shake my spine loose..."

    Congrats! Sounds like Dixie rocked that ride. :)

    Re the thrushy frog - I swear by Veterycin. Get the gel kind. It's pricey but well worth it.

  8. I gave yall a pretty vague question about her feet. See, her feet don't seem to bother her at all - I have to insist she slow down for those fist-sized jagged rocks or she'll trot right over them. No sensitivity at all. Her feet don't smell bad and they don't feel squishy, not like they're hiding thrush internally.

    Should I treat something that she doesn't think is a problem, just because we humans think it's a problem? Or is that like trimming the heels to look level, when the leg bones want an unlevel hoof?

    I've treated her frogs before - I use Pete's Goo (antibiotic + antifungal cream) and it seems to open up the frog a tiny bit, but makes no difference to her heels or her way of going. I might try ACV - that sounds easy and nonharmful too!

    Lisa - she was almost certainly shod at 18 months and moved up into weighted pads before she was 2. Another trimmer I knew said he thought her DC's would never develop as well as an always-barefoot horse, and I'm starting to think he's right.

    Laura - Dixie isn't, umm, exclusively gaited. She seems comfortable moving between the diagonal gaits (trot) and the lateral gaits (pace). Her foxtrot and stepping pace are very smooth, but when she gets tired she trots more. If I leave her to pick the gait, she'll move between them, and I figure she's resting some muscles and using others when she switches up. So I don't try to force her to, say, step pace for 5 miles straight.

    CFS: LOL! When I start to hurt, I focus on my riding even more. I don't want to hurt her too, so I really focus on each stride. Post from my core, not from my feet, keep my weight balanced, what diagonal am I on, etc. Makes the time fly by too - it's like meditating.

  9. Yeah, that'll do it! Shoes and pads before 2? Gah.

    But what an awesome example of a hoof that is not technically perfect but is performing phenomenally.

    I would love to feature Dixie's feet on my hoof blog as an example of hard working barefoot feet. Would you consider doing a little guest post?

  10. Lisa, I'd be happy to! Email me at funder at gmail and let me know what you're looking for and I'll write something up. :)

  11. I'd err on the side of caution and treat for thrush. It would be nice if you can get those cracks to clear up, even though her movement is spot on and she's sound on all surfaces. I don't think you're going to hurt anything by treating for it...

    Your comment on the joint pain totally hit home! I spent last week eating waaaay too much bread, and my knees have been hurting (which is odd). Based on your experiences, I think this is not coincidence. Note to self.

    And of course, YAY on the awesome ride!


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