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[RC] Training rides and Gum Color - April Johnson

Hi, Ridecampers,

Yesterday I took my Tanna on a training ride. We're headed for our 
first 50 soon, so we're in training. Here's my current plan. Every 
other weekend do a 30-35 mile training ride with a 45 minute break 
about half-way through. On the "off" weekends ride 15-20 miles straight 
with only minimal breaks, not one long one. Then during the week,
ride 11 miles once or at the most twice. We've got almost 5 weeks 
before our 50 and the week before the 50, I'm hoping to do a 25 mile 
LD ride.

So I rode yesterday. Supposedly a fairly easy 20 miles and it ended 
up to be a 5 hour ordeal and we went about 24 miles. The trail was 
horribly muddy in lots of spots, so we ended up doing spurts of trotting 
and cantering with a lot more walking than usual. And a lot of the 
walking was through deep, sucking mud. Our training is usually more 
along the steady speeds, rather than spurts. He was definitely tired,
but after a meal, some electrolytes and the trailer ride home, he 
was running around in his pasture doing the Arabian head toss.

He did worry me a bit because he just wouldn't pee until he got home.
This horse isn't shy. He'll pee anywhere. He stretched out to pee 
in the middle of a trot once! About 3 hours into the ride, I kept 
pausing giving him a chance to pee, but he'd just grab a big mouthful 
of grass and want to keep going down the trail. Guess I'm going to 
have to try teaching him a pee cue.

Tanna also worried me because I loaded him up to go home and he just 
started shivering. I wasn't sure what was wrong. After stripping 
the saddle, while he was eating, I sponged him down really well, 
getting the mud and gunk off of him as best as I could. I supposed 
it's possible he was getting a chill. So I unloaded him and put his 
sheet on him and walked him up and down for 10 or 15 minutes to warm 
him back up. He did warm up and didn't start shivering again. I left 
the sheet on him as a wind-break.

He was walking weird while I walked him out. Kinda sideways behind 
me. I wondered if he was muscle spasming or something, but he didn't 
seem to be in pain, just mellow and walking weird. I knew he was 
beat from the ride, we're just not used to being out that long at 
one time (usually we'll come back to the trailer and hang out before 
going out on a second loop), so that kinda explained the mellow. 
He was alert, though, just tired. Come to think of it, he might just 
have been walking weird due to the leg straps on the sheet. The sheet 
is new and maybe the straps were too loose or too long and were bothering 

Another thing, his gums looked very pale. I've never really paid 
attention to his gums, so I guess I'm not sure exactly what is normal.
(Bad, April!) I pressed his gums, but didn't see a color change 
at all. So I waited and checked his gums this morning. They look 
the same as yesterday. When I get home from work, I'll check Serts' 
gums to compare the color.

Heart rates were fairly normal through the ride. He was at 53 when 
I got him to the trailer. Course, we walked for the last 3 miles 
or so, so I wasn't surprised about that in the least.

I used my red easy boots for the first time (I have black ones, this 
is just a new pair). I didn't need them on that particular trail,
but I need to break them in, so used them anyway. I didn't use vet 
wrap before putting the boots on, just slapped the boot right on 
there and buckled it down tight. Then tried to put duct tape on them.
Ok, I just don't have this technique down! The duct tape doesn't 
go circular! I left the tape on, but it looked icky and the first 
mud puddle we went through totally loosened the tape so I don't think 
it did much of anything. I checked the boots often during the ride 
and after every boot-sucking mud bog. Didn't come off once! What 
a shock. I totally expected to be jumping off and wading through 
mud to retrieve his boots. But I pried them off myself using a screwdriver 
back at the trailer.

Another thing I'll have to fix. I think I'm tightening the girth 
too much. He's gotten a rub the last 2 times I've ridden him longer 
than 15 miles. I think it's because I'm now using a Toklat woolback 
pad now that is definitely thicker than the Tacky Tack pad I was 
using. And I think I've been tightening the girth up until the excess 
length is the same as what is was with the Tacky Tack pad. Gotta 
stop doing that. Time to loosen that girth.

Another thing I learned on yesterday's ride. Fasten the breast collar,
even though the girth isn't tight. That way when my horse shakes,
moves the saddle back on his back, and then spooks, the saddle won't 
twist under him making him go to kicking until the saddle flies in 
one direction and the pad in the other. I had stepped away for a 
minute to get the electrode that goes on his girth. I was two feet 
from him. At first, I tried to calm him, then just got out of the 
way until the wreck was over and then moved in to pick up the pieces.
Tanna was shaking like a leaf. I walked him around a little to dissipate 
the adrenaline, then calmly resaddled him. Luckily, I had just looped 
the girth strap around the girth buckle, so nothing was broken. Tanna 
had a small superficial wound on his front leg from running forward 
into the trailer and his back hooves were squared off from sliding 
along the pavement during his kicks. Whew! I was scared he'd flip 
out when I went to mount him, but nothing worse than usual.

Definitely not a routine ride yesterday! I doubt I'll ride that section 
of that trail again unless it hasn't rained for a month!

Any thoughts about the pale gums? He did drink during the ride. He 
drank some from a mud puddle, then from a clear stream and again 
from 2 or 3 more mud puddles. Which is good in itself as he doesn't 
like to drink on the trail sometimes.

Nashville, TN

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