Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Not Finishing Tevis, 2016

Pre-ride vet check and trot out.

I wrote this on my Facebook page the day after not finishing Tevis on Saturday, 7/23/16:

"Our long 100 mile trail ride (Tevis Cup) ended earlier than planned yesterday. Rio tyed up 6 miles into the ride. Very, very stressful for the both of us. Luckily, 1) we only had 1 mile to go to hwy 89 where a vet and horse transport was vs. being 5+ miles out in the middle of this beautiful, challenging trail. 2) Since it happened early, his hydration was good vs. tying up AND being dehydrated. 3) I have an even deeper appreciation for the Tevis volunteers. They are there to support all of us riders, whether we finish or not. Rio and I have finished strong 3 times. Not finished twice now. This was Rio's first metabolic pull in our endurance career. I do not care that I did not finish. I am so grateful that my horse is ok."

We arrived on Thursday, 7/21, and we were able to park in our preferred cul-de-sac at Robie Park near South Lake Tahoe.  We normally take our dog, Hana, and now our cat, Jack, with us on all of our endurance races, except Tevis.  This year our pet sitter could not do it at the last minute, so we took Hana and Jack with us.  Lake Tahoe was beautiful on our way to Robie Park.  I would of stopped to go swimming if it was not so busy and we weren't hauling a horse.


Friday at Robie Park was relaxing.  Lots of hand walking with Rio, visiting with endurance friends, getting organized for Saturday's ride, vetting in, etc.  My new crew person, Margaret,  showed up around 4ish.  After the ride meeting, she drove to Auburn as planned.  I had reserved a hotel for her to stay at Friday and Saturday.
Saturday morning started out as usual.  This was our 5th Tevis start.  Prior to 2016, we finished strong 3 times, and we were pulled once at Red Star for lameness.  That pull was not stressful for us.  Rio was not in pain.  Anyways, we started out this year in pen 1, which we had qualified for this year.  It was not my intention to race, so we started out close to the back of pen 1 when the controlled walk began at 4:55 a.m.  All was good and then when we arrived at the ride start and moved out, Rio was 100%.  About 5 miles into the ride, Rio felt "off" to me.  After slowing down and letting others pass us, I knew that was it for us and that we would be done at the hwy 89 crossing, where a vet and trailer were if needed.  I also knew that Rio was "off" because his normal forward impulsion was not there.  We went along the trail for another mile or so once I noticed that Rio was not right, but at a slower pace.  At one point, when I pulled over to let others pass us, Rio locked up.  He was not "off".  He had tyed up.  I was an emotional wreck with my horse being in pain; however, I got it together to be strong for my horse.  I took off his tack and put his saddle pad over his rump.  Every single Tevis rider asked if we were ok.  At first, I was crying and answering "no, my horse has tyed up and can't move.  Please let the vet know at the hwy crossing that we will need transport".  Once my meltdown was over, I said the same things to the passing riders without crying.

Rio has tyed up before, but not for a few years.  I now take banamine paste with me on all my rides in case he needs it.  I had it with me, and I gave him a dose shortly after he locked up.  He still could not move.  We were there for approx. 40 minutes after all of the Tevis riders had gone by.  Thankfully, the sweep riders arrived.  At the same time, someone arrived to help from the hwy 89 crossing.  Jenn.  Not sure of her last name.  They were all so incredible.  The sweep riders were compassionate and professional as they called into headquarters.  Jenn ran up the trail and met us with a huge dog blanket to help cover Rio's rump.  She is not even an official Tevis volunteer.  She took over calming my horse and I.  She put the dog blanket on Rio and talked to him and touched him in such a calming way.  She gave me her jacket to wear.  With her help, we got Rio moving down the trail.  The awesome sweep riders followed us down with Rio's tack.  Once Rio got moving, he walked at his normal fast pace, but with much stiffness.  Within 10 minutes or so, we were at the hwy 89 crossing with a few amazing volunteers along with the vet, Rob Lydon, and the horse transporters, Sage and Matt. 

Since Rio had tyed up, he needed fluids.  At each vet check, starting at Red Star, treatment (fluids + as needed) are available along with vets to give the treatment.  Since this incident happened so early on, there were no vets available at where Rio could of been trailered to.  Instead, we were trailered to Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center, about 20 minutes from the Auburn Fairgrounds.  This turned out to be the best choice.  I have great horse insurance with C. Jarvis, so besides giving him fluids, I had them do extra things to help determine why this happened. I could of taken him back to his reserved Auburn Fairgrounds paddock that evening, but instead I decided to keep him in his air conditioned stall for the night.

Oh my gosh! Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center is an exceptional facility with likewise staff with 24/7 care.  We got to know the place well.  When we first arrived, Peter and our grr animals had arrived first and already checked us in.  We stayed for 3+ hours until I felt that Rio was stable and comfortable.  My wonderful crew person, Margaret, went back home after helping me a few hours later.  Peter and I stayed at the hotel room that I had reserved for her for Saturday.  No extra charge for animals, which was nice, since we had 2. 

We went to the Auburn Fairgrounds around 9 p.m. and watched the exceptional top 10 horse and rider teams finish as well as visit with friends.  The next morning we picked up Rio and headed home. 

So, Tevis was short for us this year, but that is just the way it goes sometimes.  I am considering not attempting it again on Rio.  We have had the good fortune of finishing well 3 times.  Next year I will still be there though, either crewing or volunteering. 

Happy trails everyone!

Photo at the pre-ride vet check.
With Peter and Hana photo bombers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

American River Classic 50, 2016

Beautiful Day April 30, 2016
This is one of the most beautiful AERC races that I have rode.  It starts next to Folsom Lake, near Sacramento, CA. and ends at the fairgrounds at Auburn.  This is the first time that I have rode this ride.  It is now on mylist to do each year if possible.  I signed up for the Pioneer division, which means that you do not use any crew, including volunteers.  The only assistance that riders receive is if they need to use the rest room.  
Photo credit Baylor/Gore (I think)  Otherwise, Kumba.
The first section is next to the American River.  The weather was perfect.  It had rained the evening before (with a very exciting lightning storm!), and the trail was great.  Extremely beautiful, with green grass and wildflowers.

 Photo credit Baylor/Gore
Crossing the American River at No Hands Bridge for the second and final loop.
Second loop near Cool, CA. 
 Our camp site after the competition at the Auburn Fairgrounds.
The only thing that is a little funky IMO, is that there is no awards ceremony at the end.  Since most people live around there, they go back home after the ride.  So, once you vet through at the end you go and pick up your ride prize and that's it.  We stayed the night since it is 5 hour drive for us.  The ride prize is a very nice handmade mug. 
On 6/17/16, I left for a two day AERC ride/race, the Wild West Pioneer, which I will write and post next.  I received this lovely award in the mail that same day.



Monday, February 29, 2016

20 Mule Team Endurance Ride, 2016

20 Mule Team , February 27, 2016
50 Miles
 Beautiful day.

For anyone who reads my posts, I apologize for not writing a blog for so long.  2015 ride plans did not go as planned, but Rio was not injured, so it's all good.  Rio and I were both conditioned to start Tevis in August, 2015, but we were not able to start.  I wrote this on my Facebook page:

"Caartouche (Rio) and I were on the rider list to start Tevis again this year, 2015, but I had to cancel 3 days before the ride because bad re-shoeing 2+ weeks prior left Rio too sore to start.  My farrier and I worked with it the best that we could, but the problem was not fixed.

It is disappointing not to of attempted this challenging, beautiful trail.  It was our goal for the year, and Rio and I were in excellent condition not just to start, but to finish as well.  We had 100% completions on our AERC rides/races that we did prior to Tevis, with Rio finishing in the top 10 in 2 of our 3 competitions.

Well, it could of been much worse.  Rio's soreness was temporary.  After successfully rehabbing Rio from two potential career ending injuries, this was a hiccup.

Our next planned AERC competition was to be the third week of August:  The Eastern Sierra Classic, which is located only 45 minutes from where I live, in Bridgeport, CA.   We completed the LD distance in 2006 as our first AERC competition. We have finished the 50 mile distance 1 or 2 times.  The ride was cancelled this year a week or so prior due to one of the many wildfires occurring in CA."

I did not attend any more AERC competitions in 2015; instead, I enjoyed the beautiful trails in the Eastern Sierra where I live.  On October 12th, I broke my ankle/acute sprain, which put a hitch in my getti-up.  No surgery, but walking cast and non-weight bearing for a month and then physical therapy for 10 weeks.  Luckily, two days prior I had moved Rio back to his winter home at Millpond Equestrian Center in Bishop, where I board him.  It is a 75 mile roundtrip drive from where I live in Mammoth, so I normally have my trainer/friend, Rebecca, ride/condition/train him 2 times a week. 

Flash forward to last weekend's first AERC competition:  20 Mule Team, 50 mile distance, on Saturday, February 27th.  I have only been riding once a week for the last 5 weeks, so my fitness level is about 10% of what it normally is.  Rio is 100% fit. 

We had an incredible ride day.  We ended up placing 2nd out of 48 starters.  It was not my goal to race to win or even top ten, but we did it anyways because of the pace that we went.  A few horses passed us off and on the whole day, and I did not try to keep up.  Rio is a very ratable horse and listened to me when other's passed us.  His heart rate was under criteria in 2 minutes at both vet check 1 (48) and 2 (56).  I especially enjoyed the company of the two riders that I rode with off and on that day:  Tracy, who came in first 11 minutes before Rio and I, and Denise, who came in third a few minutes after us. 

My main challenge was my lack of fitness.  I did fine until the last 5 miles.  I hit the wall.  Riding did not hurt my ankle, but trotting him out on the vet checks was a challenge.  I needed assistance by the awesome volunteers at the finish line to weigh in for best condition.  Rio finished strong, alert, with a great attitude, so I showed him for BC an hour after we finished.  He did not win BC, but his vet scores were amazing.  48/48 CRI and mostly all A's.  I'm sure that my lameness trotting him out in circles affected his movement for the worse.  The vet had to hold my horse when I was done while I threw up by the fence, more than once.  Volunteers took over to hold my horse while I sat down and recovered. 

I did not sign up to ride Sunday's 50 mile distance because of my lack of fitness, but we did stay for the night as planned.  I did not attend the dinner that night because I was still feeling sick.  Instead, I unpacked and organized everything from my ride and took care of my horse.  I fell asleep at around
7 p.m., had a great night sleep, and felt back to normal the next morning (except having expected muscle soreness).  Pete, Hana,and I went to the ride breakfast and awards for the 50 and 100 mile finishers at 8:30. 

There is a choice on Saturday's races for each distance (35, 50, and 100 mile) to sign up as a team of four.  All four riders need to finish, and the team with the fastest combined time wins.  Woohoo!  My team won!

Besides my physical challenges, it was a fun and successful weekend for Rio and I.  It was great to see and visit with old friends as well as make some new friends.  It was also great to be horse camping with Rio, as well as being with Peter and Hana.  I like being close to the ones I love.