May 18 2010
Hi Folks, those of you who were not at the Broxton Bridge Plantation ride this past weekend in South Carolina missed a stellar event! This was a first time ride and the land owners and first time ride manager Joe Schoeh did an awesome job making us feel welcome and just about thought of everything!! My only 2 complaints about the ride were the heat (can't control that!) and the lack of grass (the owners cut it short right before the ride so everything would look neat). The good stuff...Big camp area with trees and lots of hook-ups, shaded crew area, groomed trails (yes, they went out and watered and groomed the trail the night before the ride!), traditional Low Country Boil (shrimp, potatoes, sausage, corn) for dinner on Saturday, historic civil war battlefield, plenty of vets, super crew awards, southern hospitality etc, etc!!!
I came hoping to finish 2 days on Zanie my now 6 year old youngster. She has started doing 50s this year and is handling that well so a 2 day seemed doable. She performed very well the first day, eating and drinking well on the trail and in the VCs . We were going a moderate pace and I was able to take her directly to the pulse taker at the end of every loop. Her CRIs were fabulous and all other paramiters were As. She was handling the heat very well especially considering that we had 2 days of frost earlier in the week and the temperatures were climbing into the mid 90s! She looked great at the finish and I was surprised to realize that our ride time was around 6:30, almost an hour faster than her previous ride. Of course there was absolutely nothing in the way to slow you down on those flat, groomed sandy trails!
I collected my ride card for the next day but wasn't sure that I wanted to repeat that hot ride. She has been doing so well and I have been so careful to make sure that she is having a good time that I didn't want to push my luck on another hot day.Since I'm still getting to know her at a ride I decided to hang around camp and observe her for the details that I would need in the future to know what is normal for her after a ride. I took her back to the trailer and let her into her pen. Then I hung around in my trailer and watched her out the window to observe. First she ate some hay for about 20 minutes then she stood there snoozing. After about a half an hour she woke up and took a long drink then went back to sleep. I noticed that her nostrils were flaring a bit so decided to check her heart rate. She was still around 58-60 which seemed pretty high to me but she was not uncomfortable that I could see. I decided to check my friends 2 horses heart rates to have something to compare it to. They were also slightly elevated so I decided that they were just trying to cool off in the hot weather which was about 94 at that time. I decided to take her for a walk to get her blood flowing and she ate grass readily. Her manure was a bit dry compared to that morning when it was quite loose so I figured she was slightly dehydrated from the ride. I was curious to see how long she would take to recover completely. When I took her back to the trailer she scarffed down a slurpy mash and drank some more water. She seemed a lot cooler than she had been earlier so the walk had been a good idea, maybe I should have cooled her longer after the ride before turning her loose. These are the details I was wanting to notice so that I would know how to manage her during rides especially when we start doing 100s.
She looked great that night and the next morning but I wasn't ready to gamble on competing her a second day with the weather so hot so I didn't start the ride. Instead I took her out for a 10 mile loop by herself to see how she felt. Well, she felt awesome! Light, sound and forward and ready for more trail. I had the feeling that she totally could have completed a second day with no problem but glad I didn't have the worry of the competition to think about. I feel like I made the right decision and was proud of myself for being sensible and not letting my competitive spirit get in the was of good sense. I now have some pretty good observations of how she recovers and what's normal for her. I'm looking forward to the AHA Region 12 Championship ride at Big South Fork in a month. I'm planning on riding her in the 50 on Friday and the CTR on Sunday and now I'll have the peace of mind to know that she can do it!
Happy trails, Nancy & Zanie
PS...I would definitely put this ride on your calendar. It was a pleasure!!