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Thursday, May 14, 2009

One week 'til WW and electrolyte thoughts

Seven days until I leave for Wild West. At this point there is a slight chance of showers Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I really really really hope it doesn't rain. I'm out of town this weekend and Monday afternoon-Wednesday evening next week for work - not a lot of time to prepare! Fortunately, since I use my trailer almost every weekend to go trail riding, it's set up and ready to go - just need to pack clothing, food, and horse food. I'm looking forward to the extra day at ride camp to set up, do some riding/running, and re-pack my crew bag.

My goals for Wild West (these are evolving) so far are:

1. Finish with a strong and sound horse

2. Get off. I've never been successful about getting off during a ride. I want to do at least 1-2 hours on foot each day (Saturday and Sunday). I'm young and fit. I have no excuse.
2a. There are a couple of long, rocky sections. I want to get off and walk those, especially after lunch.
2b. I want to practice tailing up a set of good sized hills. She tails fine on the flat, when we are moving some where, but I haven't been successful at doing it on a trail (haven't tried that hard either....).
2c. Finally, this is a conditioning ride for me too. I'll be able to get some altitude and hill training in - so I want to run some sections that I would usually ride, in the name of rider fitness.

3. Finalize my crew bag decisions. I have a lot of options. I did well at 20MT, but now I have a rolling container to add to the mix so I want to finalize the details - what goes where, etc.

4. Practice my electrolyte protocol. I am a firm believer that you can easily overdo electrolytes and cause a lot of harm, so I try to be conservative. My preference is to give them in her food, but that doesn't work so well on the trail! I've heard smaller doses more often on the trail are better than a bigger dose at the vet check. Which brings me to my.....

Thought of the Day!

If I want to carry preloaded syringes of applesauce and electrolytes on the trail, how do I keep the applesauce from leaking out of the tip? None of my syringes have caps! Anyone have any ideas or want to share how they carry electrolytes on the trail?

Funny Story (kinda)
I've never been a fan of electrolyting my horses by syringe on the trail. I will put a dose in their food before, during, and after, but that's it. At least three different times Farley has placed her salt block IN her water bucket during the night before a ride. Each time she drank the water during the night, I didn't notice until after completing the ride. Fortunately I always make a point of offering water through the night every couple hours at the community water trough, so she wasn't dehydrated. However, I always wonder if I would have gotten my horse in trouble if, not knowing she had been drinking salty water, I had electrolyted her by syringe on the trail? Hard to tell.

Ironically - at each of the rides where she had salty water overnight, she drank earlier and better! So I do believe in the power of electrolytes, but I'm still careful! I installed a saltblock holder on my trailer this year, so hopefully the block stays where it's suppose to. If I do syringe electrolytes on the trail, my plan was 1/2 dose at the water checks she drinks good at.


  1. For on-the-trail e'lyting (which I don't do enough of...I'm too conservative on the e'lytes sometimes), I got some heavy-duty plastic bottles that are about 5 inches high or so at REI, and have a wide-mouth opening, wide enough to stick a syringe through. It fits in my saddle pack, along with a syringe, and I mix up my applesauce and e'lytes in the container, then suck some into the syringe when I need to give them. Less messy, and I don't have to worry about exploding or leaking syringes.

  2. Oh that's a great idea! I never would have thought of that.

  3. Wire nuts for syringe caps. Take one with you to Home Depot or some such because the wire nuts come in different sizes. They're metal on the inside with a screw-type thread and should hold pretty well. Got this tip from another rider, but my syringes have caps so I haven't tried it myself. I've seen them used successfully though to it must work. =)

  4. Ooh, wire nuts are a good idea. I was thinking you should save your dewormer tubes and rinse them out good with warm soapy water. Or some Bute tubes, if you can get some empties from the vet?

    Ok, I have a stupid endurance-newbie question! How, uh, do you steer the horse while tailing? And how do you teach the horse to stop and let you climb back on? Steering wouldn't be too hard - most trail horses will stay on the trail - but stopping? Dixie would laugh and keep moving.

  5. That's probably one reason that I haven't tried too hard with the arab - with the Minx is was SO easy since she was a cart horse. She stoped when I said whoa. And she was used to pulling stuff.

    About directing them - I don't. On trails I teach the horse to follow the trail. They learn pretty fast to "follow the yellow brick road". But they aren't brain dead - if I ask them to move off the path they will without hesitation. I just dont have time sometimes to do ALL the steering at a ride - I figure they can take some responsibility.

    BTW - if you CAN'T CONTROL YOUR HORSE WHILE TAILING.....MAKE SURE THERE'S NO ONE IN FRONT OF YOU!!! Nothing makes me angrier than going up a single track - stop and go because there's a lot of riders - and having a horse behind me that is contanstly running OVER my horse's butt and then being told by the rider (who is tailing) that she has no control. Grrrrr....In that case, get back on the horse or get in front of it and lead it. I HATE people using my horse as a stop.

  6. Hahah, I remember the first time I took my (former) green-as-grass Percheron on a trail ride, he had no idea he was supposed to walk on the trail. He just walked straight, wherever he was pointed. Like riding a large bulldozer.

    Have you posted Farley's back story yet?

  7. Click on the Farley tag on the right hand side and it should pop up. The two posts are near the bottom.

    I guess there really is a part 3 to the story - how I found her and why I bought her. I'll post that soon. What I have posted right now is the info I got off the breeder. Not the best posts I've written, but they were written right around Minx's death so I had very little patience for ANY editing!

  8. Interesting! She's been around the block - at top speed, no less. Thanks :)

  9. Elytes: I mix up my elytes-and-applesauce in plastic "ketchup" bottles (the cheap red kind with a cap, from Walmart) and either measure them into a syringe (for horses like the Toad) or just squirt a small amount into the mouth directly from the ketchup bottle (for horses like Hana or Fiddle).

    If I'm on the ground and have even a few extra seconds, I dose the elytes and then immediately schlorp up a syringe of water and dose THAT. I have seen too many horses with mouth ulcers caused by electrolytes. OW! Easily prevented by rinsing.

    Have you figured out your human electrolyte procedure yet? It sounds like you're planning to work yourself extra on this ride, so make sure you take care of yourself as well as taking care of your horse!

  10. Great ideas on how to carry electrolytes everyone! Thanks! I think I'm going to try some preloaded syringes with wire caps and the ketchup bottle thing.

    Yeah - I have the human part down pretty good. Especially after running marathons, I know what works and what doesn't. Alternate water and 1/2 strength gatorade. If I'm running the whole thing, I MUST have solid food BEFORE 15 miles (or before 3 hours of continuous running, whatever comes first). GU is OK up to that point, but after mile 12 I don't want to see another GU for the rest of the race!

    I run in the middle of the day at least once a week for heat training - my body does pretty well in it. I'm learning to salt my foods when I'm running in the heat.


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