Monday, June 24, 2013

Wild West 2013: not as planned

Life, lemons, right? This weekend was a bit of that. But all's well that ends (mostly) well...

Pre-ride, sun dappled trail

A pre-ride on Thursday afternoon (after vetting all As) was uneventful. But reminded me again how gorgeous these trails are! Major's buddy Friday (and my friend C) were here to try the 30, together the horses were happy. I was nervous (but eating!) and ready for Friday morning.

I woke all night every time Major rocked the trailer, but at 7am was on my spazzy, dancing horse. Headed out towards the back of the back, but pranced our way past people. Finally I just had to let him move out or risk worse behavior. Major cranked it up into extreme trot mode, and stayed there for about an hour. We were flying, and it was perfect. He was bad about wanting to catch the next horse on the trail, and we worked on that a bit, but always within trot parameters. 

The first loop was a 30-mile out of camp and back. Long first loop! And crazy varied terrain. My least favorite had to be the singletrack through tight pines, ducking to avoid branches, swerving to avoid hitting your knees, with the footing being fine silty dirt and fist-sized rocks. Fun! He wouldn't drink at the first stop as we began traveling down the long hill to Scott's Flat Lake. We did this at a moderate trot, but then came the uphill. 

Major is totally an uphill horse. We powered up that hill, all dirt road, I was amazed. He would try to break into canter, but I didn't let that last long. We were in a nice bubble by ourselves. He drank a bit at the top, now we headed for home. 

the only ride photo I took, rockin' the braids!

No slacking of pace, no bad steps, just a machine. Funder was right, without much conditioning he was still crazy strong. We covered the first loop in three hours. We were at pulse when we came into the hold, which was an hour. 

Back at the trailer Major was a bit worried that his friend Friday was leaving (for the 30 mile second loop). But still managed to eat and drink. I'd been shoving him full of mash: he seems to have almost bottomless capacity for it!

Walking to the vet I had my SO trot him out: something looked wrong. At the vet Major got all As, dancing around I had to work on naughty behavior. But from the first step of trot-out I knew: we were done. 

I had the vet do a close inspection. No swelling, no heat, no soreness, no flinching. Looked like the hoof. Under my glue-on boots. Damn! (Insert stronger 4-letter word here)

Back at the trailer Major was awful. He wasn't convinced he was done, and was totally fired up, ready to finish this ride! He knew we hadn't gone far enough yet! He pranced around on his hi-tie, and also fretted for his boyfriend Friday, I fretted a bit but honestly couldn't do much at that point. We waited till Major stopped dancing around, and very patient SO pried off his really well-glued-on boots. There was a tiny lump of the glue under the sole. Could that have made my princess and the pea horse sore? Could be. Or did he whack a rock or step wrong? Hard to tell. 

No sense hurrying, but I wanted a vet to look at him again. About 5pm I had the same vet check him over. 98% improvement! But not perfect. I was done for the weekend. 

I could have taken him to a different vet, who might not even notice if I didn't point it out. But I have one horse. I had broken him and felt bad. And I'm not willing to hit the trail with less than 100%, or more. In hindsight should I not have glued? Maybe, but I'm not much into second-guessing. 

I'm in this for fun. As stressful as it is, it is fun in the end. I'm not chasing points. I don't have a mileage goal. I just want to ride my horse, and sometimes challenge ourselves. And when I can't, I'll regroup and go home. I have trail rides and camping and another endurance ride planned for later this summer, I want Major to be healthy for all that. 

Being in camp you see everything that is going on. And my pull seemed minuscule compared to the day's eventful happenings:

• In the morning a horse tried to follow his buddy down the trail, while still in his corral! Managed to drag it at least 30 feet, getting caught up with a folding chair, before he was stopped. No major damage, but scary!

• My friend's horse was pulled for metabolic and needed to be treated. She was also awaiting word if her first grandchild was coming into the world.

• Man fell off his horse and got a very bad concussion. His friends put him back on and brought him back (how else do you do it out on trail alone?) Rescue helicopter was buzzing around, but I heard he chose to go home. 

• (not for the squeamish) Man was dismounting when his rein looped around his thumb, horse pulled, first joint of thumb popped off! Man got into camp and the ride director got him a ride to the hospital. (There is no cell service at camp, honestly faster to drive someone to help rather than wait for an ambulance.) My friend C's husband found the missing digit, which was put on ice and delivered to the hospital. Man and digit were flown to San Francisco for surgery. 

See the excitement you miss when on the trail?! More than I need, thank you! Perspective: things could be worse! 

We relaxed all evening, took the horses for walks, stayed up late on the longest day of the year with a big glorious moon. This morning got packed up and headed home, where shiny happy Major promptly rolled in his pasture, trotted around head flinging, cantered to check on his food situation, and trotted over to his water trough. 

I'll keep an eye on him this week, trot him out, watch for bruising and anything else. Disappointing, but I'm ok with all of it. I want a decade horse, I know we'll have some bumps in the road, this should be a small one. 

Baylor/Gore photography

But I do love Wild West, and the beautiful trails. I hope to be back next year. 


  1. That's a bummer! I hope he is back to 100% soon. You take good care of him:)

    1. Thanks, hope he's better soon too. He's pretty spoiled!

  2. Oh, so sad! I love that picture of yall, Major looks like he's all legs. So glad you weren't hurt, and so sorry for those who were. (The thumb EEEEEK!)

    I bet the little glue lump was what was bothering him. I have heard that story so many times - horse was off in glue-ons, couldn't find anything but a tiny lump of hard glue, horse was fine afterwards.

    I totally hear you on the decade team/i'll be back another day thing.

    1. Sad, but could be worse! 8-)

      Yeah, it was probably the glue lump. Now I know, but we have many miles to go!

      I liked our ride photo too. Even if we didn't finish, I still bought it. Plus the photo guys (Baylor/Gore) know me as the orange girl and called me over. They're great!

  3. Such a bummer, I'm sorry. :( Love your ride photo, though!

  4. you have such a great attitude. thanks for sharing the story with us. and major is GORGEOUS! i'd have bought him if he were here: )

    1. awww, thanks. No sense crying over spilt milk. Major will be fine, more adventures to come. If you ever come this way you can ride the fire-breathing dragon. At home he is usually in plain trail-horse mode!

  5. He's such a beautiful, leggy guy! I sympathize with his eagerness, he is MADE to get out there and travel! Kudos to you for making the decision to make His Trail-traveling Highness chill out for his own good. I'd have had difficulty with that eager a horse. :-)

    1. Ha! I DO have difficulty with my eager horse! But it was learn to ride it out or find a new horse, I already had been sucked in by that cute face. I NEVER thought I would or even COULD ride a horse like Major. Amazing how your expectations of yourself can be re-evaluated.

  6. great photo . He looks like he is such a great ride! good call on your part , better to play it safe. There are always other rides. glad the thumb incident wasn't yours... yuck !

  7. Going through that single track portion you described, I was so glad I was in a short horse!!!!! I think that little lump of glue was it. I too have heard that take many times. :-(. It sucks that it ended your ride, but on the other hand like you said you are right on track for the decade team because of your cache creek completion. And fwiw I'm really proud of you for your decision last weekend.

  8. Also. Funder and I spent some time on that one horse concept and I think that only having one horse does make you ride differently. I've done endurance with multiple horses and even though I didn't care any less knowing I had a second horse made me ride differently in a lot if ways. When I was a kid and went to cavalry horse schools the instructor talked about the one man one horse bond and I'm a believer. I have it with one horse and I don't with two.