Monday, July 16, 2012

GC analysis

So how did I end up with only an hour left to cover seven miles? It's all in the vet checks. Most of the 50s I've done have had only two vet checks - the loops are 20/15/15 (or some combination thereof.) Gold Country was 12/12/18/7. Instead of stopping and pulsing my horse down twice, I had to pulse her down three times. Instead of losing an hour and a half to mandatory hold times, I lost two hours. If Dixie had pulsed down the second she walked in to each check, and I had crew to shove me back in the saddle and back out the gate the second I could leave, I would've had exactly 10 hours to cover 50 miles. But I lost another 45 minutes to pulsing my big thick-skinned horse down, and probably 15 more to me getting my shit together to get out the gate again. I only had 9 hours to ride 50 miles. I had to sustain 5.5 mph to get it done.

That's not prima facie unreasonable, even in July, but it wasn't foremost on my mind. I've never cut it that close before, not even at our first 50. It just never occurred to me that we'd get so out of time - especially when the vet-check cutoff times were so encouraging. Of course I didn't take a single picture of my vet card, but I want to say that the first vet check, 12.5 miles from camp, had a cutoff time of 10 am? I got there at 8:30. I stayed an hour to an hour and a half ahead of the cutoff times. I'd have done better to completely ignore the cutoffs AND my GPS and just go by the mileage points listed on the map + the time on my phone to figure out how I was doing.

I was going to shake my fist at the heavens and say "Well I'll just not do rides that have three vet checks," but you know what? The ride flyer (for this year, no less) says it's a two-check 15/15/20 ride.

I dunno. I know my horse is marginal at this sport, but she's not dangerously marginal. She had good vet scores all day, and I rode her pretty intelligently. Maybe her recoveries will continue to improve like they have for the last couple of years. Maybe she'll pulse down faster.

It was a tough ride. It definitely didn't feel that hilly, but the GPS says it's the hilliest 50 we've ever done. It was very hot, and I suspect the shitty smoky air didn't help things. I'm super proud of Dixie for finding fifth gear at the very end, but I'm upset with myself that she had to find fifth. That's not how I like to ride.

Stuff! Now that I'm really getting the hang of endurance camping, I'm getting way more lassiez-faire about everything.

I didn't even bring the truck tent. I just threw a tarp in the back of the horse trailer and tossed my cot back there. It was fine. I brought plenty of food and ate enough of it I suppose. Some powerbar things (gross) and some nut-and-fruit trail mix (boring), plus tons of fruit at the VC's and steak and chocolate milk at lunch. I really kinda thought the chocolate milk might make me hurl, but it looked SO GOOD when I opened the cooler and it went down GREAT.

Usually, I mix powdered electrolytes for my camelbak. Hot salty lemonade is pretty gross but I drink the hell out of it. This time, I did the whole ride with water in my camelback and electrolyte pills in my bag. I ate a handful of pills whenever I thought about it - I honestly have no idea how many or when. I did not drink as much water as usual. It didn't seem to do me any harm. I kinda missed my hot lemon water though.

Still rockin' that same long sleeve runner's shirt. It totally regulates my temperature - it keeps me slightly cooler in the heat and slightly warmer in the cold. I loves it. Still rockin' the barefoot shoes. I laced them pretty tight to hopefully prevent blisters, but I still popped a blister on one foot. I didn't notice til I got home so I guess that's almost success. I've been going commando and not getting the panty-line chafing.

The participation award was a Cooltie, and they gave it out at sign in. It does, in fact, work. It feels kinda disgusting - it's a warm slimy wet thing tied around your neck - but I felt cooler than I otherwise would've.

Last week, I got a Fitbit. It's a little pedometer, smaller than a cigarette lighter, that clips onto your body somewhere. It tells you how many steps you walk in a day, then extrapolates how many calories you've burned, miles you've walked, etc. The hard-but-not-impossible goal for most desk job people is to walk 10,000 steps in one day. Would you care to guess how many steps the Fitbit thinks I took on Saturday? And how many calories I burned, even after I went back and told it I'd been Riding Horseback (Trotting) for 12 hours?

My quads are KILLING ME. Gonna bike a lot more around town and try to get in better shape for Tahoe Rim.

Sticking your helmet in every water trough is definitely the way to fly.

Horse stuff!!
Used Gloves again. I've gotta be getting near 200 miles on that set, and they're noticeably easier to put on. I only taped the fronts - her front feet look way better, but the Gloves' V still doesn't stretch like it should. I actually lost a rear boot, but the gaiter kept it on. Will probably tape all four for Tahoe Rim.

So Easyboot people, is this the point where I put the powerstraps on? Now that the boots are ~easy to apply~?

My Renegade friends have been giving me vague disapproving vibes about my boot disloyalty, but the Gloves really do fit better right now. Shrug!

Totally forgot to buy applesauce. I only had four single-serves of applesauce, so I rationed them out. Turns out Dixie eats hay-and-BP mash with a half oz of Enduramax mixed in, yay! She ate a lot of her elytes and I only syringed at the first two checks.

She didn't drink til 16 miles. She drank great all the way back to camp, then after lunch she was pissy and wouldn't drink again til the trough at about 39 miles - but again, she drank heavily at that trough, the trough 2 miles from the last VC, the last VC, and the trailer. I have finally started to relax and trust that she's taking care of herself. Her hydration scores were consistently good.

And speaking of that - this was the first ride where I assumed she was ok. Every AERC ride we've done, I have been assuming that she's about to die and hopefully the vets would notice before she fell over. This ride, I just assumed she was ok, mechanically and metabolically, and hoped the vets would notice if I was wrong. YAY.

Dixie looked good after the ride. Her flanks got a little tucked in from the inevitable dehydration (endurance athletes, equine or human, can't replenish their fluids completely during an event - they always finish a couple % dehydrated), but they'd improved the next morning.

All four legs had a tiny bit of fill overnight. I need to walk her more often before bed and before we load up to go home. Do poultices work, or do they just make the humans feel better about things? What about wrapping, does that work and how would I learn how to do it? Is it just disguising the problem, or does it actually help prevent future lameness?

Of course nothing rubbed her. This is the up side to having a thick skinned horse that takes 10 minutes and 10 gallons of water to pulse down. :)


  1. What brand is your long sleeve runner's shirt? I wear long sleeves for sun protection, and I'd like something cooler than what I have.

    1. New Balance NBX zip neck long-sleeve tee. I got it at the Sierra Trading Post outlet in Reno, so I can't be more specific than that - they don't carry mine exactly anymore. Something like this?

      It's not actually UV fabric - my tan is slooooowly getting darker - but it's very close.

  2. I'm guessing there is almost never any place to hose her legs after a competition...kinda have the same problem at rodeos. Last year I used the Sore-No-More mud poultice and just spread it on Moon's legs after a run and left it. I don't know that it did a whole lot. This year I am using Mineral Ice after his runs and that seems to be more effective. I don't wrap, just groom the heck out of him after a run, wipe his legs down repeatedly with a rag dipped in ice water from the cooler and slather on the Mineral Ice. That seems to really help tighten his legs back up and I have not had a single instance of hot spots or swelling. I hear the Green Jelly is good stuff as well.

    1. You're right! Hoses are a huge luxury - I won't say never, but it's really rare. I'll remember the cooler water especially - that's a great idea. Will probably try the Mineral Ice too, what's another thirty bucks or so, right? ;)

      Also Amazon has Green Jelly filed under Grocery & Gourmet Food, ROFL.

    2. LOL...Now that's a unique place to have to look for it.

    3. I'll second the recommendation for the clay-type poltice. I've used IceTight and some other brand before and it does help, even without wraps and such. With Dig's since he tends to swell regardless, at a ride I'll soak the wraps in the melted cooler ice-water, and then do poltice + standing wrap with the wet wrap. It's more work, but it makes a big difference for him. With Sinatra, just poltice was all I needed. Beware that without wraps, they can get pretty creative about "finger painting" with the wet clay! ;)

    4. WTF! I think Google ate my first comment.... NEWAYS - what I said was the clay type poltice does make a big difference, even without wraps. I've used the IceTight brand and another one I don't remember. With Digs, who swells easily, I'll soak the wraps in melted cooler ice water and then do clay under, then the icy cold pads with wraps. With Sinatra, just the poltice was enough to help him. Beware they can get pretty creative about "finger painting" with the wet clay if it's not covered with a wrap! ;)

  3. Tips for keeping thick-skinned and/or dark heavy-muscled horse cooler (and easier to pulse down): WATER, and lots of it.

    Elytes to make sure there's plenty of liquid on the inside. I used a very moderate amount of elytes with the Toad, but both standie mares need a LOT of elytes, especially Fiddle.

    Carry water with you to dump on between water tanks if you won't be seeing puddles. If the neck feels hot (hot and dry OR hot and wet), squirt on water. If your humidity is high and/or you are not moving very fast, scrape off the water immediately with a riding crop or your hand. I carry 2-3 water bottles on my saddle to squirt on Fee during a hot ride, and I refill them at every puddle, tank and creek. If there are puddles along the trail, I can sponge at a canter, and will do it continually!

    If you keep the body cooler, the heart will not have to work as hard to cool the blood, and thus your horse will have less fatigue. This works for people, too. Sponge the large muscles of your upper legs and feel your entire body cool down.

    Also: if you ride with a HRM, try to keep the pulse below 160-180, and definitely below 200. At the Renegade Rz ride I did in June, I tried to keep Fee's HR below 100 for all of the downhill portions.

    I'm glad you completed! Three vet checks on a 50 is pretty normal here; sometimes we have 4 checks! I personally hate "stop-and-go" checks, because they always take 15+ minutes and that time doesn't get subtracted from travel time.

    1. We had some metabolic problems early on with no elytes, so I've been religious about them since! I was so "oh dear!" when I discovered I was low on applesauce!

      I often ride with horse water. This ride, I had one squeezy bottle for her and I kept her neck damp all afternoon. I'd have been happier to see more tanks, but that's so dependent on the ride course - most managers put out as many as they physically can. I need a sponge leash, but it's not urgent - there are not so many creeks at my rides. I hopped off and scooped her til her neck was cold at every single water tank.

      I have no HRM; I keep spending the money on something else. You know how it goes!

      Thanks as always! I'm on the right track, yes?

  4. Ahhh, toooo many vet checks! It's really amazing how wasting even a few minutes in a vet check can come back to bite you, let alone pulsing down that frequently with big Dixie gal. Still sounds like she did great and your ride photo is seriously epic! (why isn't it on this post?)

    You know I only did the LD but it was the first time I was just mellow and assumed Blaze would be fine too--and by golly he was! It's a much better feeling than riding in terror for miles, right!!

    1. Oh this one's easy! The ride photo isn't on the ride story because when I wrote the first part I thought "I'll put it at the end" and by the time I got to the end I thought "I already put that in at the beginning" and that was that.

      Hifive mellow!

  5. Congrats!!!!! As for her legs since I have a 'Dressage Diva' horse I can't say what I use because I don't. I've heard great things about sore-no-more, mineral ice, and the green jelly stuff too.

  6. Congrads on finishing, even if you were close to the time! Sometimes it just all comes down to watching the clock - I've been there before with cross-country, when you look at your watch and are like, WTF? How did that happen? Oh well, you learn something new every time you go out. Glad that you and Dixie finished safely and soundly!

    RE poulticing and wrapping... I don't wrap much any more at all, unless it's very cold, because it holds heat to the tendons, which is bad. I'll slather on some mud poultice, let it dry on the trailer ride home, then spend 30 minutes hosing it off. I think it's the 30 mins hosing that really does the most good, lol! Probably that doesn't help any, but that's my $.02. Tell us what you end up doing!

  7. sore no more liniment is the shit. use that and a good massage. if you know someone who can teach you how to CORRECTLY apply standing wraps please learn (think professional trainer not the dude that has a horse two stalls over)

    this is a good book

    i'm a big fan of pony club books. i have this one and it has a section on shipping and standing wraps

  8. Hmm...of the 50s I've done out here (admittedly not that many), 3 vet checks is somewhat par for the course. A couple of them have had a single check @ the 25 mile mark which I really don't like. I take care of the horse just fine out on trail, but there's something about the enforced vet checks that makes me stop and take care of *me* as well.

    On the fence about leg wrapping. I like doing a clay poultice -- Ice Tight is my favorite -- but stopped doing overnight wrapping because their legs always seemed so warm after I'd unwrap them. It's more work, but what I'd started doing, since I lack a freezer and method of keeping ice boots cold, was to soak pillow wraps/leg quilts in a bucket of ice water (ice from the cooler), then wrap with the soaked quilt and secure with a leg wrap. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes, usually while I'm scraping sweat and crud off the rest of their body, then remove the wraps, apply poultice, and let it be.

  9. Ha, I know how it is on the vet checks! My last two rides (Pinenut and Hat Creek) had three vet checks (tho at one it was a vet and go with no hold and the other there was a trot-by). I like having one check and being able to take care of my horse on my own terms and not have it mandated to me.

    I have been wrapping Bo's legs for the last year and it does help him. I am not wrapping Chief's legs. I like using clay, with brown paper wetted and then the quilts and polo type wraps. You could also try using Holy Water. I do often ice boot especially on hot rides or when there is a lot of hard packed, rocky and downhill footing. What helps the most is to keep the horses walked every couple of hours and to keep them moving.

  10. Okay - since no one has asked.... what did the FitBit say??

    Re: Powerstraps, yes, generally. When the boot goes on really easily and there's not much V-spread, then generally a Powerstrap will help the fit. Some horses may need them due to how they travel (i.e. torque), others may not. So even if it goes on easy, if you're not loosing boots, you probably don't need them. But they're fairly cheap insurance.

  11. I don't have any suggestions, but I find all this stuff fascinating. It sounds like you've got it all down to a science! Major props to Dixie too... I think Lilly would fake being near death at the first vet check so she wouldn't have to go on.

    You and Dixie make a great team!

  12. Well, you did it nonetheless and your horse was ok.. that's the juice of it... I know about the slow pulse down thing... living that myself with Maggie.. I suppose we could all go out and buy an arab but why??? Keep up the good work.. YOu and Dixie do great together ..

  13. That was some ride, well done both! .......I think anyone who does this game is very cool!


    Let's make it our mantra. :)

  15. That's it, I'm opening an applesauce vending booth at the next ride. Congratulations on a terrific ride!

  16. The whole number of vet check thing and the number of gate and gos is why I think so many people ride so close to the limit at tevis. It's a hard trail anyways, and to lose four hours at checks and gates is hard. I have a horse that immediately pulses down and I'm really good about leaving exactly at my exit time, and when I figured it out, I had only 20 hrs of actually ride time to get down the trail.


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