Friday, March 06, 2009

Twenty Mule Team: Adventure in the desert - Victoria Thompson

Twenty Mule Team was probably doomed before it even began for Kat that Friday before we left home. We wanted to be on the road by noon and neither of us even got to the barn until after one PM. Then there we things we needed to attend to with our other horses before we could concentrate on getting packed up and on the road. Kat plowing into the back of my pick up with hers didn't help matters any either (rather humorous accident, but that will have to be told over a bottle of scotch). We finally got on the freeway to head out of LA just as rush hour began, about quarter to 4. Once off the main interstate we got stuck behind a big rig and had to crawl our way into Ridgecrest. We pulled into the fairgrounds literally within minutes of the start of the ride meeting, so I went to the meeting while Kat unloaded Twiggy from the trailer. After the meeting we vetted Twig in and got everything arranged for the next day. Kat's plan was to try and ride a 10 MPH ride in the hopes of finishing before the moon went down. Since there wasn't a full moon for this ride everyone who did this last year learned that it really gets DARK out there - Kat included. So she really wanted to be done by 10:30 when the sliver of moon we had would disappear. Well, that was the plan.

Had a wonderful night's sleep and got up about 4:45AM. I discovered the night before that old age is finally beginning to hit as I managed to leave home, for the first time, without soap, brush, toothbrush or toothpaste. So, when I jumped up in the morning to run to the bathroom to 'take care of business' I managed to beg some toothpaste for my finger and a comb for my hair. We got Twig saddled and Kat fed and off they went. As soon as the start began I unhooked the truck from the trailer and took off for Vet 1. I saw a fellow in an RV pull out before me and he soon pulled over to let me by. Little did I know that with that kind gesture I was now the first person out there. I remembered the road to Vet 1 from last year, and just kept going along expecting to see rigs already there. The RV was behind me for awhile, but he turned back when the road started getting rough. I mean tire popping, axle breaking rough. But I kept going. I kept telling myself that I didn't remember the road being quite that rough, but maybe they had some bad rains out there. And I kept going. For 4 miles I kept going. I kept going even when I saw little pink ribbons (benignly thinking it was nice of them to put trail markers up for us). It was now 7 AM and I still hadn't come to Vet 1. I stopped and looked at the directions and they said it was about 15 miles to Vet 1 from the fairgrounds. Well, I'd gone 17 miles. Oops. Needless to say I turned around and went back. Pulled into Vet 1 about 7:20 and got out to a fellow wagging his finger at me saying he'd a kept following me if the road had let him (he was in the RV). A couple other guys kind of laughed at me, but I have to admit I drove right by the vet check. The only things out there were the 2 water troughs and I could not see them when I drove by. Shoot, the hay and porta potty hadn't been delivered yet and I was late! Truth be told I was having fun out there and if it weren't for Kat I'd have continued on down that road. We weren't expecting anyone until 8, and right about 7:30 Jeremy Reynolds came into view. Hot on his tail were the two girls, Joyce and (darn, the name starts with a J - Jennifer ... Janet ... whatever. The other J). Low and behold about 10 minutes after Jeremy came Kat. I was not expecting that. I had everything ready. I just wasn't prepared to see her so soon. Twig looked great. She drank and ate and went through the trot out without any trouble. In 15 minutes Kat was back on board and on her way.

Off to Vet 2 - you can't get lost going to Vet 2. You can, however, be going down the highway too fast to make the turn off and have to turn around and come back (I do this every year). I was the second person there this time. I helped unload the crew bags after I got Kat's stop set to go. Hay, water and the porta potty finally arrived. We gabbed a little and next thing you know there's Jeremy with the two J's just a couple minutes behind. Kat had slipped to 17 minutes behind Jeremy, but she was still a good 30 minutes in front of the next person. Twig looked great. She ate and drank. After 20 minutes we took her to the vet out and she passed with flying colors. She ate and drank well for the rest of the hour. We cleaned her up, re-saddled and off Kat went. So, off to Vet 3.

Got to Vet 3 without any problems. Sat and talked with people whose names I can never remember (but that's OK because they can never remember mine). Before you know it, in comes Jeremy and the J-girls hot on his heels. I helped Jeremy with his crew bag again and held his horse for him. I didn't like the looks of one of the J-girl's horses. Walking funny. Sure enough she got pulled. About 15 minutes after Jeremy left Kat came into view. Twig looked good. She drank, but she was picking at her food. What she really wanted was to roll. We were next to a pile of sand and she was trying desperately to go down and roll. We bandied the idea of pulling her tack and letting her roll, thinking she would eat then, but we really didn't have a good way to wash all the sand off and didn't want to risk putting the saddle back on a sandy back. Twig vetted through just fine, so Kat just got on when her 15 minutes was up and left. It was only something like 8 miles back to the fairgrounds for the second hour hold and we'd let Twiggy roll there.

We were parked next to Jeremy and Heather, so when I got back to the fairgrounds I was a little shocked to see Jeremy already there. He was having a little trouble getting his horse to eat, so I tried enticing him with 'strangers' hay. That didn't work. We tried a couple other things that didn't work and finally gave him a dose of appetite stimulant (glycogen loader - karo syrup works too, in case you're wondering). In 15 minutes he was scarfing down his food and passed the vet check with flying colors. Jeremy was out the gate at the end of his hour hold just as Kat came in - still in third place. Twig looked good. She pulsed down in a couple minutes, we got our time, and went back to the truck. We took her tack off and cleaned her up, but she really didn't want to eat and she only drank a little. She was pooped. We gave her some glycogen and watched her. Next thing you know the P and R lady was coming over telling us we needed to get our time. Well, she gave us our time, but she forgot to write it down. It was time for us to vet Twig through. Twig was tired, but we were hopeful the glycogen would get her eating. Just as we were about to enter the vet area Twig pooped and it was really dry with a hint of blood on a few of the balls. Kat and I looked at each other and Kat said Twig wasn't going on. We took Twig over to the vets and told them Twig was done because of what we saw in her poop. She was vetted through and passed the check. The vets said to take her back and let her rest and eat and decide later if the pull was for real. Kat got one of the vets to go over to the poop and the vet said it was nothing to be worried about - probably just something she ate irritating her colon, and there wasn't enough blood there to be bothered about. Kat stayed and talked to the vet while I took Twig back to the truck. Just as I tied her up she let me know she wanted to roll. Kat came back then and we decided to take her to the arena where it was soft. Hard as a rock, so we went back to the soft vet area. Twig dropped like a stone and promptly fell asleep! That got a good laugh from everyone and Kat reemphasized that Twig would not be going back out. After a few minutes we got her up and took her back to the truck. Twig laid down again and just slept. She was in and out of her snooze for a hour (sternal the whole time) when she finally rolled over prone. She was flat on her side for a couple of minutes when the vet came back over. It was decided to get Twig up to get her eating, so much to Twig's dismay we made her stand up. She wouldn't eat. Kat made the decision to have fluids administered as a precaution. While the vet went to get treatment Twig started eating and she didn't stop until we put her in the trailer the next morning. Even though Twig was eating, Kat had the saline administered. After 17 liters Twig peed, but a full 21 liters were given. Twig drank another 20 gallons of water during the night and peed and pooped up a storm. Twiggy never showed any signs of distress. She was just very tired. She's been home a week and she's still eating up a storm.

Jeremy finished first with a ride time of 9 hours and 21 minutes (I like to think I had a hand in that :-)

Maybe next year. Oh, and I'm driving around in some POS Dodge Journey while the bumper on my truck gets fixed (thanks, Kat)


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