Friday, August 8, 2014

Further Thoughts on RBTR 2014

  • Q's Pace with Heavier Rider: Based on the mileage for this ride and the time spent on course (since I didn't complete and wasn't riding Q I had to compute this way), Q averaged 6.3 mph for the day. (My GPS mileage of the trail calculated it to be 44 miles instead of the supposed 49.6 miles; if that distance is true she'd have averaged 7.1 mph.) Consider the added 40 to 50 pounds of carrying a larger human (Mike's Ansur weighs the same as mine and all other tack was exactly what she usually wears), and I'd say this is quite good! I'm impressed with her efforts. She moved out faster on that first loop than I've ever had her move in a race day situation. 

    Mike said that she did get really lazy for awhile during the third loop, so he got off and walked her for a time. He stated that it was only for 1000 feet or so though, and she was completely rejuvenated afterward.

    Considering all of these things, I think that where terrain allows (is safe and not crazy), I am going to begin asking more of this little horse at future rides. She's clearly capable of handling a bit more!
  • Boots: Vipers on the fronts are still BOMBER. Second race with them and NO issues despite all of the chaos. To date wearing these boots we've only had one minor issue (at the OD). They're a great match for this little mare's front feet.

    Easyboot gloves on the hinds wasn't as fool-proof this ride as in past rides. The left hind retained its glove with no issues through the ride, but the right hind shed the glove on both the warm up ride and the actual race. When replaced with a Renegade on ride day, we experienced no more issues. Her hinds are very similar to her fronts in regards to shape, so I think the Vipers would do well on them. The differences in movement in her hind vs. front may throw things off, won't know until I get Vipers for her hinds though. I don't plan to splurge on that until our size 1 Renegades die...or until Griffin has need of them - but that won't be for awhile yet as he will have to build some mental maturity prior to any more competition events!

    Griffin had ZERO issues with the boots Nicole used on him. Vipers in the front, gloves in the back. In fact, little horse moved out better and more confidently than I have seen him move out over rough terrain thanks to them! (It was also such a pleasure to get to *watch* him move out since I'm nearly always the one riding him.)
  • Food: Q and Griffin both whole-heartedly approve of mash created from Triple Crown Senior feed. I also approve. This feed has lower NSC values than anything they'd received prior and they both go ga-ga for it as if it were candy. Double that with the added water they're tanking up on while consuming that mash? Bonus!

    Q had better gut sounds all day than she has ever thanks to eating SO much mash at the holds. However, not eating as much during the second hold and being out for a longer period of time during the third loop hurt her score for gut sounds at the end (a B instead of an A; though sounds were heard in every quadrant). I plan to bring even more carrots with me on trail at the next ride and feed them to her while out on loop if she didn't pig out as hard as possible during the hold.

    I'd comment on Griffin, too, except it was his first ride and I don't think I can draw great conclusions from that. His mental breakdown definitely didn't do him any favors either. Time, my little grey beast, time. Then we'll see how you deal with race day pressures.
  • Hydration: Q bounced around all day with hydration-related vet scores. I think the amount of mash she ate during the second hold contributed to this as she wasn't drinking as well on trail as she typically would. Her scores at the second hold were the worst all day highlighted by a "C" for capillary refill along with a B for skin tenting. 

    Those with more endurance experience than I, can you help me understand a little more about mucous membrane vs. cap refill and how they differ? I thought they were a little more closely related, though I feel I must be wrong because she scored an "A" for mucous membranes and "C" for cap refill.

    Fortunately, after munching grass and alfalfa at the second hold (she wasn't presented with her typical mash here due to the worry over Prince) and getting some electrolytes, she headed out for a slower loop in the heat of the day where she drank much better. Her scores at the final check were much improved. B for skin tenting and B for gut sounds everything else A's.
  • Q's Spooking: Q did significantly less of this during this ride. She also did not present any dirty spooks when she did spook. She led for the majority of the last loop, and led for the final 4 or 5 miles of the second loop. She had a few moments that I witnessed while leading, but nothing crazy. Overall, in the past several times she has been ridden, she has spooked significantly less.

    Her confidence has soared in recent weeks, as well, which I think has a lot to do with her previous spooking. Her confidence was severely lacking. She's got an attitude to her now that she's been lacking until recently. There is some sass present in this mare now that wasn't present before. I'm a huge fan. Mike and I both find ourselves laughing at her so much lately with both groundwork and work undersaddle. It's so refreshing to see her come out of her shell finally. It's taken two years, but better late than never.
  • Young Horse Mental Capacity: Let it be stated first and foremost that I am so beyond  thankful that Nicole was willing to take Griffin on for his first LD experience. I didn't know quite how things would go down and neither did she. That she was willing and brave enough to get out there and make the best of it meant the world to me. <3

    This ride proved to be too much for Griffin to handle mentally - especially on his own. Physically he was ready for a ride like this - very ready. His level of argument with Nicole during that second loop attempt proved it even more; he exerted hella lotta energy fighting her! (Little shit.) I don't think I could prepare him better physically at this point in time. He's been at a moderate level of work that has steadily increased since I really began riding him in January. (I rode him some last year, but it was very infrequent.) For his age, I am very comfortable and happy with what he has accomplished in training.

    Mentally though? Without a buddy Griffin just isn't ready for LDs/competition yet. And I'm totally okay with that! I still stand by my decision of letting him test the waters at this ride; it was the perfect place to try him out because it is terrain that is very similar to what we train on all the time. The new 2-way traffic on the ride this year was really intense though. This didn't help Griffin one bit.

    I didn't do any training at home with bringing Griffin home, untacking, and then heading back out after a pseudo hold, but honestly, I think even if I had it wouldn't have helped greatly with the situation that resulted. He was so desperate for a friend - ANY friend - that he just couldn't think about anything else. At home he has NEVER had an issue leaving. Is he eager to return? Certainly, though not in a rude way. He's usually fresh when he leaves the barn, but he is still moving forward happily and never trying to turn around for home.Hell, that time he bucked me off last September he didn't even run home - that's Q's MO. He just ran amok in the field, and then when I kicked Jeremy off Q and took off away from home on her he looked up and chased after not wanting to be deserted - never mind all the horses in the field 200 feet away! So, I can only imagine how mentally distressed he was about having other horses go by him when he couldn't join!

    I don't think I'll test his mental resolve again until next April. I could potentially take him to Fort Valley if he had a buddy to support him along the way, but I'm not sure I'm ready to risk that yet. Trailering him that far from home is a feat in and of itself considering the trailering anxiety he dealt with earlier in the year. Additionally, what if his buddy got pulled along the way? I'd be right back to where we were at RBTR probably as I doubt his mindset will change that much between now and October. He might be different if I rode him vs. someone else riding him, so that is something to consider, but why rush? He'll be a long (long, long) 4 year old for No Frills. Perhaps I'll see if he can spend next year completing the LDs at the Triple Crown (No Frills, OD, Fort Valley) with the addition of RBTR. Time and circumstances will determine all of this! For now, I'm proud of the little grey horse and everything he has become.

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