Friday, April 6, 2012

In which Fiddle and I return to the arena for a lesson

"Back in the 'rena again!"
Six days after Fee's minor tye-up at Home on the Range, it's time for a little bit of light work.
Dory usually works us to a hard sweat,
but today's lesson was easier on the muscles
and more strenuous for our brains
Fiddle and I have been at loggerheads in the arena lately, so I had two goals for this lesson:
1.  Keep her forward in motion and forward in attitude
2.  Work her lightly and evaluate her recovery from the tye-up.

Since Fee doesn't enjoy the company of other horses in the arena, I started with nearly 60 minutes of solo warm-up before anybody else arrived.  We mostly walked, with a bit of trotting and LOTS of bending.  

She had two tiny rebellions, about two strides each, and then decided on her own to cooperate with me.  Hooray for a cooperative Dragon!

After Hana and Duana joined us

she lost her concentration only briefly, and then we went back to bending and stretching.   

Then, it was time to work:

learning to extend the walk...and then REALLY extend the walk

extend...then collect...then extend...then, at the trot
we were actually better at the trot than the walk, because
face it:  we are really good at trotting!
Duana and Hana worked with us, but the mares concentrated very nicely on their own work, without getting distracted by each other.

This has been a huge issue in the past--one that we hoped would be "broken" by moving Hana to Fish Creek/Fat Camp for a few months.  So far, so good!

And best of all, Fee moved forward with bounce (whenever I didn't impede her with my ineptness!)  and peed a lovely yellow lemonade-colored urine when she was done.  In other words: her recovery is progressing nicely.  Whew.

After the lesson, the puppy:
Dory named her "Poppy", which suits her perfectly
Absolutely adorable.
Rhetta is Poppy's new BFF!
If you worry about the puppy and the pibble, you clearly haven't spent enough time watching Dom's blog and Erin's blog--and you definitely needs to see this  PUPPY LOVE video, featuring Herbie the pibble and Jabby the standardbred.   

But, then, we have a video of our very own, featuring Poppy and Rhetta!     Goodness  <<--our lives have it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In which there is a ride report and discussion of pink lemonade

Ears on the Range
I've ridden at Home on the Range almost every year since 2000.  (There were a couple of years I did the trail ride with young horses, including Fiddle). 

The ridecamp has changed location three times since I started riding it, but the terrain is basically the same:  endless, beautiful stretches of scabland and grass.  I didn't expect this year to be much different.  And in fact, the terrain was similar to past years...


this year, the condition of the terrain was substantially different.

(insert ominous music)

 This was our first clue that the rangeland had gotten a whole lot more rain than usual:

(the loser who speeds by at the end of the video got stuck in the mud about 50 feet after I shut off the camera...and he dug a gigantic trench through the middle of camp with his truck in the process.  I deliberately did not look to see who was driving)

Despite a dismal weather forecast, the morning of the ride dawned rather prettily. 

Sunrise on ride day

I should know:  Fiddle and I climbed up a hill so we could warm up at a calm distance from camp and watch the sun rise.

The first loop was relatively dry, with few least, the terrain provided very few obstacles...

Fiddle is not a big fan of cattle,
but she followed 'Lupe and Sister into the cows!
The route is pretty.  There are a few farmhouses to trot by, and some irrigation creeks,  

and even a railroad bridge to duck under.

We were warned that "tall" horse/rider combos would
never fit under this bridge, but we walked under easily. 
No trolls here!
Mostly, though, the first loop was cattle pasture and prairie.  14.5 miles in 2 hours...not exactly speed demons!

The second loop, however was tall grass and CRP Grassland
Can you see the flags marking the trail?  No?  Me either.
The grassland retained the water that was absorbed and drained from the cattle range.  It wasn't deep was deep water.
Soooo pretty.
That's the part where I mis-calculated. 

I've ridden this ride so many times that I followed my routine...but although the temperatures were cool, my horse was working much harder than usual because of the wet ground.

For the work she was doing, Fiddle needed more electrolytes

The best guess is that I vastly under-electrolyted Fiddle, choosing to feed the weather, rather than feeding the work.  That's a big oops, and I should know better. 

Walking out of the second vetcheck.  Her scores:  straight-A's. 
However, when we got back to the trailer, she peed "pink lemonade",
which indicates a very early-stage tye-up.

"Tying up" is the much-easier-to-say layman's term for Rhabdomyolysi, a muscular disorder condition occuring in horses either during or immediately after exercising.  Classic signs of tye-up include stiffness, sweating, muscle tremors and reluctance to move as a result of painful muscle damage.

Fee didn't ever show any of those symptoms.

Throughout the weekend, she was what we Pacific Northwestern riders call "EDPPMF":  Eating, Drinking, Peeing, Pooping, and Moving Freely.  (It's not a snazzy acronym, but it works for us).

Her only symptom was the urine discoloration, but it was enough for me to grab my vetcard and pull us from the ride.

In an exam later in the day, the ride vet confirmed what I saw:  no symptoms except the urine color.  We opted to allow Fiddle to "treat herself" by eating and drinking, which she was (as always) eager to do, rather than administer fluids or painkillers that might depress her inclination to eat and drink on her own. 

Tye-up can be serious.  Fee's tye-up was atypical, in that it didn't occur early in the ride; she didn't show the discolored urine until the vetcheck at 25 miles.  Her muscles didn't turn rock-hard, and she showed no sign of discomfort or unwillingness to use her back end--in fact, she offered to kick another horse on our walk back to the vet area!

Urine the color of pink lemonade is a reason to stop riding; urine the color of coffee is a reason to stop dead in the trail and call for a vet to come to you.  There are links to scientific articles about tye-up at the bottom of this post if you want to know more.
Fiddle doing one of the things that Fiddle does best: eat.

In this case, we are mostly guessing that insufficient electrolytes were the cause.  As my vet says, "we only have one data point, and that's not enough to draw a line."  

I dearly hope that we never get more data to draw a line.

As for the mud, it didn't dry up in time for everyone to exit camp without help from the Valet Tractor:
The SS Illegible gets a tow to high ground
But as for Fiddle, she seems to be just fine.
Blue sky, pretty mare.

Not much in the world makes me happier than that.

Here are some online resources and explanations about tying up:

Tying Up: Rhabdomyolysis in Horses.   November 8, 2010 (updated)  by Robert N. Oglesby DVM

Tying Up in Horses. (Fact Sheet).   Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc;  reviewed by: Fairfield T. Bain, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVP, ACVECC.

Monday, April 2, 2012

In which this isn't the promised "lemonade" post; instead, it's a song

I'm still writing the "lemonade" thing.  Fiddle is fine, and the strawberry-lemonade thing is long gone.  

Fortunately for me, I'm a writer:  every experience is just a new chapter for the book (or the blog, as soon as I finish the rest of the research I want to include in that post!).


Danny and Monica at Home on the Range
(before all the "fun")
Monica wrote an excellent account of Danny and Galen's Great Escape on her blog...and she mentioned that the Dragon and I assisted a bit before meandering off to warm up for our ride and compose a new song.

So, here's the song.  I understand that by decomposing tunes recorded by the Electric Light Orchestra, I am revealing my surprisingly-advanced elderly-ness AND the extreme depth of my music-geekiness.  I'm good with that.   

If you are too young or too hip to remember the original Jeff Lynne/ELO song, you can remedy your ignorance HERE.

Hold on Tight to Your Lead(rope) -  a song for the Tekes
with apologies to Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra

Hold on tight to your lead
Hey, hold on tight to your lead
When you see your fenceline is breakin'
When your pony starts to forsakin’ 
Hold on tight to your lead

It's a long time to be gone
Oh, time just rolls on and on
When you need a grain can to rattle
When you get surrounded by cattle
Hold on tight to your lead

When your horse gets loose and runs far from your truck
And you want so much but you're all out of luck
When you're so downhearted and misunderstood
Just over and over and over you could, oh

Accroches-toi a ton corde
Accroches-toi a ton corde
Quand tu vois ton cheval partir
Quand tu sents ton clĂ´ture se briser
Accroches-toi a ton corde

Hold on tight to your lead
Hey hold on tight to your lead, yeah
When you see the shadows fallin'
When you hear that cold wind callin'
Hold on tight to your lead!

In which we go to the ride and things happen, details to follow soon

Home on the Range ridecamp 2012  photo by Darlene Anderson
 The beautiful, expansive acreage around our Washtucna ridecamp traditionally doesn't get much rain--about 10 inches annually.  

(For comparison: average rainfall around Haiku Farm is about 38 inches annually)

I believe that Washtucna received about half of the allotted annual rain in the few days surrounding the ride.

"It rained"   photo by Monica Bretherton
 Fiddle and I started the 50-miler, but after passing the vetcheck with all A's at 25 miles of deep sloggy trail, she "peed strawberry lemonade".   

Most endurance riders will understand what that means, and why I grabbed my ride card to take it back to the vets so I could pull us.  If you don't understand the significance of "strawberry lemonade", don't worry--my next blog post will talk all about it.  

Suffice to say that the ride was beautiful, that my big mare is just fine (and, in fact, never showed any other adverse symptoms), that I learned things.  Details forthcoming.

Since I have to get out the door to work right now, I'll just show you the cuteness:
Bailey and puppies: "Please, take them away--they have TEETH!"

Bailey is Ryan's dog.  She's a great little working mutt, and he always thought it would be awesome for her to have little working mutt puppies.  She delivered a litter of TEN pups 7 weeks ago.  Ryan has now scheduled a spay operation for Bailey.

Bailey would rather be working, anyhow.
Trail marking crew
 Ah, but the pups need homes!  

NO, we did not take a puppy.  But we helped place some of them.
Madeline's new puppy
 Madeline will be graduating from college at the end of May, and then heading off into the rural wilderness of America to put in two years with Teach for America.  TFA is an awesome program, putting new grads to work in places where a lot of people need teachers, and a lot of teachers don't want to live. 

I'm sure Mads will have many, many adventures...and she needs to have a dog with her.  So, we chose the puppy she will take.  The name of the pup is secret for now.   Shhhh.
Dory's new puppy
 Our dear friend Dory also needs a puppy.  She chose this little calico girl-pup from pictures.   When Dory couldn't make it to the ride, she asked Jim and me to bring the pup to her, which of course was a delightful task.
This puppy is definitely a Pirate
 So much cuteness!
Allowing sleeping dogs to remain recumbent
 The shelties were relieved when we stopped at Fish Creek and dropped off the puppy.  They do not enjoy the company of puppies!
Home at last!
Dory does.

Life is pretty danged good.  You heard it here first.