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Fort Valley No Frills (long)-sole soreness

I am coming out of lurking mode to share my first Fort Valley No Frills ride. 
 I have never done a Virginia ride before.  We arrived Saturday afternoon at 
about 3:30 pm.  The sun was shining and it was about 70+ degrees. Coming from 
cold northeast Ohio this was heaven.  I did a minimal trace clip for the warm 
weather weekend.  I didn't want to take too much off since we had to go back 
to the cold northeast.  Set up camp, vetted in, packed for the vet checks and 
everything seemed fine. 
I don't have the luxury of having a crew and when we (my friend Randi was 
doing the 25 LD) took our vet check gear up to the check in point to inquire 
where to leave it, there was no one who could tell us who was responsible for 
the crewless.  A lovely women named Virginia (from Virginia) told us she was 
crewing and would be happy to take our gear AND fill our water buckets. 
That's what riding endurance is all about. We thanked her profusely and 
loaded our gear in her truck.  Thank you again Virginia.

I set my alarm for 3:30 to feed Matty and go back to bed.  As I was feeding, 
I could hear the rumblings of thunder in the distance.  Shortly after going 
back to bed, it started to raid lightly and the thunder was getting closer.  
I suggested to Randi that perhaps we ought to put the horses in the trailer 
cause it was going to cut loose.  Just as we were getting back to bed, the 
sky cut loose and we had a torrential storm.  Lots of thunder and lightening. 
 Not something I wanted to consider riding in.  We lay in bed and prayed for 
it to stop and God heard us.  It quit completely at 6:00 a.m. I just hoped 
there would be no more lightening.  I got saddled up for a 6:45 start.  I 
warmed up and rode down to the start and just as I rounded the corner to get 
to the start we were told the race has begun.  The timing was perfect.  The 
bulk of the riders were already gone and so we just continued trotting at 
nice, even pace. Matty settles into his BIG trot early, so we cruised past 
several horses along the several miles of gravel road heading up the 
mountain.  His pulse was not going over 140 or so with this steady climb and 
things were looking good. We cruised through the first 18 mile loop in an 
hour and 40 minutes. There were some rocks on this loop but nothing like what 
I had heard about Virginia rides. The weather was still trying to decide what 
to do and rained lightly intermittently throughout this whole first loop.  I 
ended up having to take my glasses off, since I couldn't see through the 
smear of rain anyway and when I arrived at the vet stop, I couldn't see well 
enough to find Virginia. Matty's pulse came down within a couple of minutes 
and I took my poncho and put over him and pulsed through at 56.  Had a great 
CRI and trot out but was told his gut sounds were slightly diminished and 
needed to get him to eat.  I guess the storm must have bothered him that 
morning and kept him from eating was well as usual.

I was able to wipe off my glasses on my shirt tail and finally found 
Virginia.  She had everything all laid out and the bucket filled, bless her. 
Matty proceeded to take a long drink and eat everything in sight. Good boy. 
We left the vet on time and headed back out on trail.  The second loop was 
supposed to be 14.5 miles but there was a substantial climb for the first 6 
or 7 miles.  I caught up with a few horses and settled in to ride with them 
for a while. They rode a nice pace.  There were more rocks on parts of this 
loop.  Several places we had to walk through because the rocks were so 
plentiful. Some of the views from this loop would have been beathtaking if 
the fog would lift so I had to use my imagination.  It was just great being 
out on my horse.  

With the climb and the rocks, it took about an hour and 50 minutes to do that 
loop.  I went straight to my buckets this time and Matty's pulse was down in 
a few minutes, so we went to pulse in.  Got 60 this time and went straight to 
the vets.  They had 5 vets at this ride and there was never a wait for a vet. 
 Dr.Jeanie Waldron was the head vet and she is wonderful.  Once again we had 
a good CRI (60/56) and trot out but gut sounds were down.  Jeanie held my 
card and asked me to come back.  I went back to my crew spot but Matt didn't 
want anything I had to offer so we went for a walk to find grass. It was 
plentiful.  He ate grass and we wandered around and came to the crew spot of 
Mary Coleman and Cindy Simcox. Mary and Cindy weren't in yet and their crew 
chief extraordinaire, Jackie, offered Matty some wonderful alfalfa which he 
ate with real gusto. 

When I presented for a recheck to Jeanie, she proclaimed he sounded wonderful 
and to go have a good ride.  I thanked her and headed out for another 18 mile 
loop.  According to the profile map, this loop did not have as much of a 
climb as either of the first two and I felt confident of a good completion.  
I never did catch anyone early on this loop so it looked as though this loop 
would be solo.  As we climbed and wound through the rocks (and more rocks and 
more rocks) I soon realized this loop was by far the hardest of the three.  
It was not until we were finally headed down the other side that I heard the 
faint clatter of hooves on the rocks behind me. Then I heard some voices so I 
knew there was more than one "someone".  I kept looking back but it was too 
misty and foggy to see far.  As I was negotiating the switchbacks down the 
mountain, I was able to look up and finally see who was behind me.  It was 
Valerie Kanavy.  I could hardly believe that I was actually in front of 
Valerie Kanavy. We continued on down until we finally got out of the rocks 
(did I mention there were lots of rocks?).

At this point Matty was so glad to be out of the rocks and we had been going 
so slow this entire loop up til now.  He picked up a nice rolling gallop and 
we were finally making up time.  I soon heard the sound of galloping behind 
me and Matty automatically picked up the pace. I let him roll for a while and 
soon realized we were actually "racing" with Valerie.  This road led us for 
probably 3 miles or so and then we were back in the woods. (but no rocks) 
Matty continued to gallop (his easy rolling gallop heart rate is under 110). 
Overall it took over 2.5 hours to do that loop. When we finally arrived at 
the last vet stop ( and I admit to riding the last couple of miles probably 
too fast) Matty's pulse didn't want to come down and he didn't want to stand 
still.  If I insisted he stand long enough to check his pulse, he started 
fussing and jigging.  So we walked.  Finally after about 20 minutes, I was 
able to pulse through right at 64.  I went over to present to a vet and his 
hydration remained good, his trot out was OK but his gut sounds were a B- and 
his pulse was "spikey".  It was suggested that I walk the last mile in to the 
finish so I could get my completion. Which is exactly was I did.  We took 
over 20 minutes to walk that last mile.  

By the time I got to my trailer, (Matt ate grass all the way up the road) and 
got unsaddled and rubbed down to present for completion Matty was looking 
much better.  He vetted through much better. Once again his hydration was 
A's, he had a good CRI (52/48), A's on gait but slightly diminished gut 
sounds.  I plan on using Pro-bi from now on.   

It was a wonderfully rewarding ride.  I would like to see the views on a 
clear day.  I would definately use easy boots to ride those rocks again. 
Today, Matty is tired but feeling much better.  I have a question for those 
of you experienced rock riders.  It is obvious to me that Matt's feet hurt.  
His legs are fine - no heat - nice and tight.  But he walks like he walking 
on eggs. I waited till Monday night and gave him  2 gr. of bute and 2gr. 
again Tuesday morning.  His feet still hurt some.  Should I pack his feet 
with something?  Would regular poultice help? Fortunately, at home the ground 
is quite soft with some muddy spots. He's out all day. Just in at night.  Any 
suggestions?  Should I be worried about this?  Any and all help would be 

Sallie and Matty (no more rocks, please)

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