Tuesday, June 15, 2004

2004 Old Dominion: All is Well - Cindy Eyler

We didn't get a completion at the Old Dominion 50, but Jack is fine. I, however, get the dunce cap.

We warmed up in the big arena at the 4H Center from 6:00 until the start at 6:30, and Jack was amazingly calm in that increasingly crowded environment. There were about 100 horses in the 50-miler, and by the start time it seemed like most of them were in the ring with us. He immediately wanted to trot rather than walk, of course, but he was willing to do what I asked. It was a controlled start (because the first mile or so is on pavement), and we headed out about 2/3 to 3/4 back in the pack. Nice easy trot, walking in the steep and/or rocky spots, up and over Skyline Drive. It's steeper, though better footing, down the other side, and we had some disagreements about how fast we should be going in the steepest parts. Then, I let him move along with most of the other horses around us. WRONG. TOO FAST. We traveled the rest of that 12.5 mile leg to the Shenandoah River without incident. Except for when tried to act like a TB race horse -- two guys were going along side by side ahead of us, and when we came to an open area and they spread farther apart Jack spurted forward trying to shoot the gap.

The folks around us were not stopping at the few creeks, so there was no way that Jack was going to drink. He usually doesn't drink until we've done about ten miles anyway, after which he inhales water whenever it's available. I sponged him all the way across the Shenandoah (about a quarter-mile) into the first vet check at McCoy's Landing. We had done those first 12.5 miles in 1 1/2 hours. Was I concerned? No. I was so worried about not being overtime that I was thrilled. Dunce!

At the last minute, ride management had had to ban all pit crews at McCoy's because the ground was so soggy that we'd have destroyed what is actually a hay field. I had no stethoscope (wasn't riding with a heart rate monitor), so I asked for a courtesy pulse check and he was at 68 (criteria was 64). Took him back to where our crew bag had been dropped, but all he wanted was to eat a bit of alfalfa hay. Back to P&R about five minutes later and he was at 54. I was thrilled. Passed the vet check with no problems. But, during our 20 minute hold, the only thing he would eat was the remains of someone else's dumped out beetpulp/grain slurry, and there wasn't a lot of that. He did not drink, so I did not electrolyte him (he'd been getting plenty of e-lytes for the preceding 36 hours).

What should I have done at this point? Obviously, we should have stayed after our out-time until he'd drunk well and eaten more. But off we went on the next leg, over the Massanutten. He drank well a couple of miles into this second leg, and I syringed him with e-lytes. But we stayed apace with the folks around us up that friggen mountain. TOO FAST for the incline and the footing. Did I mention the rocks? At one point we were slogging over a section of trail that seemed to have only rocks and no dirt. There was a sheer drop-off on our left, though the trail was nicely wide. I was glad I'd had the farrier use borium-headed nails.

Came into the mid-point vet check at Fitchett's Field two hours later (TOO FAST), and he inhaled water from a trough. Sponged him well and he pulsed at 60. All's fine, right? WRONG. While he had excellent gut sounds, his hydration was not good. Vet said a C on skin tenting and cap re-fill. It was a 30 minute hold, so the vet kept our card and told me to bring him back in 20 minutes or so for a re-check. But during that time, HE WOULD NOT EAT! Not even carrots and apples out of my hand. When he peed, it was a deep golden color instead of the nice pale straw color I'm used to seeing. THAT scared me. Back to the vet. PULLED!

While we waited for transportation to basecamp, Jack finally did begin eating some, and he drank deeply again. Back at our campsite, his pee was again deep gold. But a couple of hours later it was the color I expect to see. He's fine. I'm an idiot.

As it turns out, we did get a completion after all for our 50 miles at the Michaux Madness ride two weeks earlier. Evidently the mileage was somewhat longer than advertised, and we finished in what should have been the allotted time. What irony!!!!


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