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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Runamoc update

NOT having a good day.  My cat Mickie died in her sleep sometime last night and while she was old, she wasn't THAT old and it was very unexpected.  So now I'm sitting here not preparing for the first part of my capstone exam that is taking place in less than 2 hours, and instead sorting through my pictures from backpacking last weekend and eating a morning bun from starbucks.

So, I've decided to post something easy that doesn't require a lot of update on my runamocs and how much I love them.

I have a newer pair of Runamocs (generation 3) that are pink and have very thin soles, but for hiking and trail stuff, I still prefer my original pair of black runamocs.  They don't see a lot of use beyond hiking and backpacking these days, but I gave them another thorough work out last weekend.  Here's some shots of them doing a fabulous job on a rather technical trail:

I've tried out a couple of different barefoot/minimalist shoe options and runamocs remain my favorite, both on the trail and off. 

Here's a short video of me going down the trail in them.

The rest of the trip is more relevant to Tess's blog than this one, so I'll be posting more of the story and pics over there.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What's in a first aid kit - Human

Today we are going to evaluate a mix of human and horse first aid kits.  The kits are ACTUAL kits in use, NOT theoretical "best case scenario" kits.   I did not modify or evaluate the contents prior to blog in order to make them look better or worse....... :)

The intro post to this subject is here

This post kept getting longer and longer....and longer so it's been split into human and equine.  This post covers the human side. 

Backpacking kit
Limitations: kit needs to be small and portable and light.

-Reduce pain
-Stabilize major injury so I don't die
-Make it possible for me to continue walking/hiking in less than optimal conditions
-Address more minor injuries so they don't become major ones along the course of a trip
-Improve my chances of survival away from civilization, at a weight and size that means I will actually put the thing in my pack.

Because it is a backpacking kit, I do have some items that are more "survival" included that have functions beyond medical.  I think that is appropriate considering the goals of the kit.

Total weight: 7 ounces

In a ziplock
- mirror: for signalling, catching attention, and for looking for ticks and cactus spines in hidden places....
- small feminine pad/liner: for bandaging
- inhaler: because I've been in situations where I got into respiratory distress due to an exercise induced asthma, so this is worth it's weight for me. True, it's never happened during a backpacking trip (only after a 100 mile endurance ride) but it was scary and not fun, and I didn't have an inhaler on hand.
- bandaids: mostly because I get bloody torn cuticles that could potentially get infected.
- Safety pins: can be sanitized and used as needles.
- wet fire: my emergency tinder
- crazy glue: to fix equipment and cracked skin/fingertips. Or stick a bandage on if I really needed to.
- matches: backup, in its own ziplock inside this ziplock.
- Sewing kit: 1 needle, one darning needle in a piece of closed cell foam with quilting thread, and waxed floss wound around.  I also have a suture needle with swagged on suture that I have removed from the packaging since it won't be used in sterile situations.  This is stuck in the foam with the other needles.  The sewing kit is in general meant for repairing equipment and for improvising with equipment in an emergency, not for stitching anything biological.  Although one of my classmates pointing out I could ligate a vessel if needed, which is true.

All of this is placed in a small ditty sack that also contains
- Ace bandage: in it's own ziplock to keep in clean, which will help it retain it's stretchiness. This item has been used more than once, although not by me :).  It can be a day-saver for a hiker with knee pain that has to go down hill. 
- Clot pack: small.  It was suggested to me by someone that has actually used these to make sure I got the type that is an actual pack, not powder. 
- Medicine: Ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea, aspirin, benedryl, Vicodin in a small ziplock.   Total is about 1 oz.  (included in the 7oz figure above). 

 Optional: In the winter time I'll carry a myler blanket (adds 1.5 ounces).  If I'm hiking by myself, backup water treatment (1 oz) is included. 

Other items that have been in the kit in the past that I no longer reguarly carry are
- moleskin
- tweezers
- epipen

Other thoughts: I've put a lot of thought into this kit and decided what is likely to be used, what can be used in the back country, what the capabilities are likely going to be of me and those around me in a situations, and worst case scenarios.  I've looked at other people's kits and their rational for each item and then made some personal decisions.  There's always room for improvement, but I comfortable with the kit right now. 

Car kit
Limitations: kept under the seat of the car.  Gets hot in the summer, so anything in it has to be fairly heat stable.

-Acute injuries (bleeding, swelling) that may not need further medical attention
-Minor hurts (headaches, cuts, insect bites etc.)
-Make everyday life a bit less painful

I got this kit as a gift from my mother and I think this is one of the better kits out there.  I can picture me using most of the items, and I've been able to replace items as they have been used.  

 Nice compact kit that lives under my seat

An assortment of bandaids and gauze bandaging and teflon etc.  I think feminine pads+ace bandage make better emergency bandages than dealing with a teflon pad that is always too small and tape that won't stick, HOWEVER from this assortment I've been able to deal with bleeding cuticles, cracked finger tips, minor cuts, seeping poison oak patches etc. 

Packs of Advil and Tylenol.  As I've used the meds I've replaced them with the similar packets because they are clearly labeled with doses and directions. Repackaging pills from larger bottles, would be cheaper, but I would lose the ability to toss this kit at someone that needed something from it and have everything be self explanatory and for them to be confident in what the pills were, expiration dates, storage conditions in the packaging etc.  This isn't my primary "go to" location for meds when I'm away from home.  I carry a separate, small "kit" with me in my backpack that contains NSAIDs etc for my personal use in a small altoids tin

I've added moleskin to the kit - holds up better than duct tape in the heat and can help protect a wound like a blister from further damage.

Scissors and forceps.  Both are pretty useless.  Scissors aren't sharp enough, forceps aren't pointy enough. The Scissors will work OK if needed.  Although a good knife and a needle would do everything that even better. :)

Roll of cotton gauze good for tying stuff on to various body parts

Gloves.  NOT sterile.  Good for human medicine where there might be blood.  But don't put them on and think that you can now touch stuff that you couldn't with your barehands because you are somehow "cleaner".  Because you aren't.

LOTS of little cleaning wipes.  Remember that the alcohol ones are useful for sanitizing hands etc.  The soap ones are good for cleaning wounds.  Don't use peroxide and alcohol to clean wounds!!!!!  Soap and water.  Even just copious amounts of water if you don't have soap is better than alcohol!

A roll of tape - that will never stick to what it needs to stick to.  I promise

Neosporin - the packets are great!  Except when you only use half and want to save the rest for later.  Than it leaks all over your kit.  Better to just buy a small tube and leave in here IMO

Blistex packet - I don't use lip balm often but if someone was desprete maybe this would be a nice thing to have - but if I use it out of the kit I probably won't replace it.

Packet of sunscreen - Same situation as the lip stuff.

Burn gel: Same as the sunscreen and blistex packet.  Nice for it to be there, but not integral to the kit and won't replace if it gets used.

Cold compress: YES!!!!!  Now here is something truly useful that I would totally use (and replace) as necessary.

Other Thoughts:
After reviewing this kits, one thing that this kit does NOT address that would probably be useful is the ability to stabilize a more major wound well enough that further medical attention can be sought.  This kit does not contain compression bandages, a clot pack, or any "wrapping" type bandages needed for more major injuries.  This is truly a minor injury kit that meets my stated goals - which are reasonable for the types of things I will encounter in my day to day life associated with my vehicle. Adding stuff to this kit would add bulk and size and increase the chances that I wouldn't take it with me - I swap this kit between vehicles that I drive so that I'm maintaining a minimum of kits.  Having to maintain a kit for each vehicle instead of just one is something that would fall under the "good intentions" category, but wouldn't actually happen.....

In general, it's a good, useful kit that doesn't go overboard and stuff that I will never need (and thus cluttering up the kit and keeping me from being able to find stuff), that has a few "fluff" items.  It would be frusterating to deal with a major injury with this kit, BUT it does it's job well if you stick with the intended goals of the kit - make everyday life a bit easier and less painful when you are less prepared than you ought to be. 

Random human internet kit

For the purposes of this discussion, I decided to use an REI kit.  I tried to find a mid-level kit that wasn't too over the top, but also put some serious thought into treating something beyond minor cuts and bruises.

I settled on this one, which is designed for 4 people over a 5 day trip

Here are the contents with my comments

  • All contents are packed together in a zippered nylon case; clear vinyl compartments let you easily identify the items you need (Yeah!!!!!  I really like that about my car kit, and is why I use a clear ziplock for my backpacking kit.  Clear and organized is so important when you want something quickly)
  • Comes with "The Wilderness First Aid Manual" by Dr. William Forgey for quick reference while on the trail; also includes an accident/evacuation record (Eh.  Your most important piece of equipment is your brain and you should thoroughly study this before the accident.  I'm ambivalent about this - but it's also because of my background and experience.  I'm likely to read it and then leave it home, but maybe it would be useful depending on your group.  I left the little instructions in my car kit because I'm not worried about weight, and that way someone can educate themself if they are trying to treat something on themselves, or heaven forbid, someone else)
  • Treat wounds with five 3 x 0.75 in. adhesive bandages, five 3 x 1 in. adhesive bandages, 4 knuckle adhesive bandages, 4 fingertip bandages and 4 butterfly closures (I'm more of a fan of more generalized bandages that can be adapted to more situations, than carrying so many specialized bandages that will probably degrade before they are used.  *shoulder shrug*.  IMO a feminine pad/liner, regular bandaids, and a teflon square pad or two are more than adequate)
  • Also includes four 2 x 2 in. gauze pads, three 3 x 3 in. gauze pads, a 3 x 2 in. non-adherent pad, a 4 x 3 in. non-adherent pad and four 4 x 4 in. sterile top sponges (So.........sterility is relative and has an expiration date so I'm not THAT impressed with the 4 sterile items. I've never found gauze pads that useful and they just stick to stuff, I like teflon and feminine pads - although you can use gauze to pack a wound.  I think sitting down and deciding how you would bandage various wounds and in what circumstances you would use different bandage materials could be useful when deciding on different components and what you want available to you.  Why not just include everything under the sun?  Because when you want/need a teflon bandage and you have to sort through stacks of gauze pads you aren't going to be happy. )
  • Two 4 x 3 in. pieces of moleskin, a 9 x 5 in. abdominal/pressure pad, a 4.1 yd. x 2 in. stretch gauze roll, a 10 yd. x 1 in. roll of tape and a 2 in. elastic bandage (Moleskin is appropriate, as is the pressure pad.  The stretch gauze is very useful, as is the elastic bandage, although an argument might be made that these 2 items could be redundant - like the gauze versus bandages, do your research on why you would choose one over the other and decide whether you want both. How about the tape?  I've never ever ever gotten medical tape to stick to ANYTHING I wanted it to stick unless I was at home dealing with clean skin and I planned on sitting on the couch all day and not moving.  So......I tend to choose other tape options :)
  • Prep and care for wounds with 3 antibacterial wipes, 4 triple-antibiotic ointment packets, 3 sting relief wipes, 3 povidone-iodine wipes and 1 antimicrobial hand wipe (I would TOTALLY increase the hand wipes.  Just one????????? Compared to the gazzillion wound wipes????????
  • Medications include 4 Nutralox® mint antacid tablets, 4 Proprinal® ibuprofen 200mg tablets and 4 Cetafen® acetaminophen 325mg tablets (I'm totally biased here since I have never had to take an antiacid, so it's never included in my first aid kits.  But maybe you have a different opinion.  Ibuprofen - Good.  Acetaminophen - Good, although my choice is aspirin, and I don't like Acetaminophen, but I think your choice of these sorts of drugs is personal preference and any specific medical conditions you might have.  I know there is mixed recommendations about the anti-diarrheal pills, but after considering them, and the consequences of being in the backcountry with uncontrollable diarrhea, I've decided to include them in my kit so I at least have the option :)
  • Also includes 2 Histaprin® diphenhydramine 25mg tablet and 1 pill vial and label (This is benedryl - Good.  Although I would bring lots more......especially for the amount of people/days this kit is for.  Although I come from a family where lots of us have pollen/grass allergies and we are taking for more than just contact rashes etc.  At somepoint I will camp in a meadow on a trip and not be able to BREATHE because I'm so stuffy.)
  • Equipment includes 3 safety pins, a pair of latex-free medical gloves, bandage scissors, splinter forceps and a 10 x 8 in. resealable waste bag (safety pins - good.  Forceps - assuming they will do as described and actually grab a splinter.....good.  Waste bag - really good idea!!!  Backpacking I usually have enough bags I don't need to add a seperate one to the kit, but that would probably be an excellent item to add to my other kits (car, horse etc.).  That way no potentially biohazard waste is left laying around, or contaminating some trashcan.  Bandange scissors?  Wouldn't put in a backpacking kit.  Maybe in a horse kit.  And.....gloves.  See previous comments about gloves.......Good especially if another person is bleeding.  But doesn't necessarily mean you are sterile or even clean.  Please don't go probing any wound I might have with those gloves you just pulled out of the first aid kit......
And now for your thoughts!!!!!!

Horse kit is coming - but I actually need to go to the stable and see what is in my kit.  I can't cheat by just trying to remember - the point of the post is to do actuals, not what I think is there or the "ideal". 

I hope none of my meds are expired.  That would be embarrassing.....

First Aid Kits

But first a few updates.....

The Wintec
I put a Fleece on the Wintec and it feels good!  So 17.5 with full fleece or a 17 without fleece.  That will give me a bit of flexibility when looking for a used one.  It's a secure saddle even though the seat isn't as deep as the solstice - it was a windy day and we were doing some technical footing and I never even came close to coming off the center of gravity, while still having the freedom to move around in the saddle as needed.

My leg is pretty stable in the saddle except.....that it moves more on one diagonal than the other.  This is indescribably annoying.  Rising and falling with the left shoulder?  Perfectly stable leg.  Rising and falling with the right shoulder?  Leg (especially my right) rubs back and forth.  SO ANNOYING.  Farley definitely has a preference for leads etc.  It took a year of dressage lessons before she would consistently pick up both canter leads equally and she's noticeably stiff to one side and overbent on the other.  Not totally her fault of course - her rider isn't the perfect picture of balance and symmetry either......So, I got 2 things out of yesterday's ride:

1: We have GOT to keep working on the basics and doing the dressage because over time, one sideness is NOT the recipe for soundness and health.  Dressage and making sure I don't favor one lead/diagonal over the other is important!

2: I rode in shorts - which I thought would be OK because I had a full fleece.  It was NOT.  The fleece is worn near the bottom of the leathers and about 30 minutes in I knew I was going to have to cut the ride shorter than I wanted because the rubbing and rising pain was starting to influence my riding.  I found myself only wanting to ride the left diagonal, since my leg didn't rub and was stable.  A PERFECT example of why the tack has to fit you as well as the horse and be comfortable. 

Of Cruppers
After the ride, I did some crupper training in the arena.

I had thought that Farley's first crupper experience would provide enough fodder for an entire post......but it ended up being a complete nonstory, which is why we are going to talk about first aid kits today!  The hardest part was convincing her to lift her tail enough I could get it on.  I tried all my tricks, including the one I learned in vet school so I could temp an uncooperative horse - touching the anus.  Nope.  It finally occurred to me to have her walk forward a couple of steps - when walking forward she naturally unclamps her tail and I was able to slip in on.

No bucking, no hysterics, NOTHING.

I love this mare.  We will ignore the fact that earlier in the day, in order to try and ease my burning calves I brought my feet forward over her shoulders at a walk for the last part of the ride and she turned around and bit my foot.

In general she's so sensible and easy.

At this point I'm not sure I could get the crupper on at the beginning of a ride, but I'll ride with one every ride from now until my next ride in mid June and see how it goes!  She has a really sensitive girth area and I'm hoping that using a crupper will decrease any over sensitivity that she's getting after a lot of hills. 

And now......Today we are going to discuss first aid kits - for the human and the horse. 
Why?  Because unless you have spent some time really evaluating your first aid kit and asking some key questions, chances are you won’t have what you really need in an emergency. 

Key question: What situations do I want to be able to address with my kit? 
IMO this is THE most important question, yet the least asked. 

Here’s the scenarios that I think about when I set up my emergency kit

For the horse
Stabilize a bleeding wound
Relieve pain associated with musculoskeletal injuries, colic
Address a tendon injury in the first 24 hours (wrapping etc.)
Clean a wound
Bandage a wound
***All of these, except for the more minor cuts and injuries are only until I can get my horse to the vet.

For the human
Relieve pain
Bandage wounds - minor
Stabilize more major wounds until can get medical attention
Treat diarrhea if I'm in the woods or in the middle of a ride
Remove splinters, ticks, and cactus spines

Considering scenarios is important because they will guide your choices of what to include and what not to include in your first aid kit - having a kit that you are comfortable with and knowing what you would use each piece of equipment for will make you more confident in using it, and will make the kit more useful. 

Other important questions/considerations
How often will I inspect my kit for cleanliness, expired stuff, and completeness? 

I know myself well. I tend to evaluate my kit only before long trips, usually the day that I leave. I also don’t have a ton of space, sometimes it gets left in the trailer after trips (where it can be really hot), and the environment is always dusty.  What does this mean?  I set up the kit to try and make it easy to maintain.  It fits in a container that I can carry with one hand to make it easy to take it out the trailer after events so it doesn’t get as hot.  It has a close fitting lid to not let dust in and I keep stuff that shouldn’t get dirty in ziplocks.  The kit is small enough that I can find what I need.  It has a few basic medications that I need to keep an eye on (bute, surpass) but in general the items in the kit are stable and don’t expire (bandages etc.) or have a long shelf life. I keep more feeding syringes than I need in it because I’m constantly borrowing them out of the kit for electrolytes :).

What are my skills and abilities related to first aid and being able to address an emergency?  And if I don’t specifically have the skill, is it likely that I will be with someone who can and is willing to do it for me? 

Here is an example.  If you have never wrapped a horse’s leg before, and don’t have some basic principles, carrying materials to do an emergency bandange/wrap isn’t very useful.  However, especially if you are in ride camp, it is likely that SOMEONE near you CAN wrap a horse’s leg and is willing to do it for you, if you have the stuff.  Thus, I would argue that including the right materials to wrap is a wise choice. 

How about another example?  Fluids.  Bags of fluids.  You could argue that this is an excellent idea.  In fact, I heard riders talking about whether keeping some bags in their trailers was a good idea at the convention last year.  Horses are generally tolerant of fluid overload so there’s a large safety margin in giving fluids, and endurance horses are usually dehydrated at the end of the ride, even if they look good.  Lots of problems begin and end with Dehydration, so having several liters of fluids (assuming room, weight, and replacing them when they expire aren’t issues) could be an excellent addition to your first aid kit.  IF YOU KNOW HOW TO USE THEM.  If not, they will sit there and expire and cost you money and are useless when you really need them.  I know how to put in a catheter and yes, I could administer fluids.  If you come up to me at ride camp and ask me to do so for your horse, I will not. Sorry - comes too close to “treatment” that should be done by a vet or it’s owner (if you are the owner of the horse you have some protection against practicing medicine without a license). There is a small argument that if your horse gets in trouble at a ride and you have fluids, you can get the treatment vet to give them, since it’s possible that the vet doesn’t have lots of fluids on hand to give.....So, assuming for a moment that I did not know how to place a catheter and could not administer fluids, I would argue that the money and space could be better used for something else.  

In the next post we will consider the specifics of what will go into the kits - I'll share what is in my kits, a friend's kit, my opinions on the contents of some commercial kits. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Quick catch up

Just so you don't think I've dropped off the face of the earth....

This is my last week of school, which will then be followed by a weekend of backpacking (trinity alps!) which will then be followed by a week of a capstone test (a 2 year comprehensive). 

So........if my posting is sporadic, or my posts full of errors.....of Freudian slips etc - you aren't allowed to be too harsh :).

So...just in case I don't get to this in a timely manner, here's where I am right now:

1. Irish horse lent me a wintec to try out.  Rode in it yesterday and I do believe a 17.5" is too big - which is weird because the wintec 17.5 dressage is perfect.  And the 17" Solstice was a wee small.  So at this point I've decided saddle sizes are like pants and the numbers they come with don't mean crap.  The plan is to put a full fleece on it - which may make it fit just right, in which case I will have to make a decision of which size I want to buy - sized with fleece or sized without.  Even with the saddle being a bit big, I could still get my leg underneath me and keep it there.  I feel balanced in it.  Farley didn't sweat enough to put a nice dirt pattern on my white pad, but from what I can see so far it looks good!!!!  Certainly good enough to go to the next step and try it with a fleece etc.

2. Crupper training.  Haven't started yet.  Should be fun.  Minx wore a crupper and all my driving horses do, so it's not like it's a foreign concept to me.....but Farley is definitely a crupper virgin.  :). 

3. There are a couple of articles that I've had sitting in my inbox that I wanted to share with you.....but I have to face the fact that they are starting to pile up and so I need to do the easy thing and just give you the links and let you read them without a bunch of commentary :)

a. A good article on recovery and glycogen replinishment.  Some of the most interesting points in the article to me (all of them are almost direct quotes, with some editing):
General recovery notes
- Even in cool conditions, the horse's respiratory rate will be elevated for 30 minutes to an hour after hard exercise--perhaps 60-80 breaths per minute for the first 10 minutes of recovery. Hot horses will have much higher breathing rates--as high as 120 or more breaths per minute, which reflects use of the respiratory system for heat loss. However, you should be concerned when the respiratory rate remains this high after five to 10 minutes of rest--this is an indication that your horse is overheated and in need of active cooling.
- You should measure the horse's rectal temperature after hard workouts. A rectal temperature in excess of 105-106°F (40.6-41.1°C) indicates the need for aggressive cooling. In most situations, respiration and rectal temperature should be at resting levels one hour after exercise.
- Traditionally, horse owners have not allowed "hot" horses to drink because of a perceived risk for development of colic and cold-water founder (laminitis). However, with the possible exception of very hard galloping exercise (e.g., Thoroughbred racing), it is safe for horses to drink right after exercise. In fact, clinical experience has shown that thirst drive decreases with time after exercise. 
- Electrolyte replacement will also help with the rehydration process. You have several options. On an ongoing basis, provide a salt block and some loose salt (in a bucket) in the horse's stall. However, particularly during the summer months when sweat losses are higher, it is also a good idea to add up to one ounce of salt (or a commercial electrolyte supplement) to the horse's ration, including the first post-exercise meal. 

Glycogen stuff
- Key in developing training and competition schedules is to avoid back-to-back hard efforts that might get to the "bottom" of the horse's fuel reserves. At least two days of light exercise between hard efforts is recommended.
- The rate-limiting component of full post-exercise recovery is replenishing muscle glycogen stores. This process seems to be quite slow in horses, taking as much as 48 hours for a complete return to "resting" levels. Research in other species indicates that early post-exercise feeding is needed for optimal glycogen replenishment, and it makes sense for us to apply these same principles to horses.
- Remember that glucose is needed for glycogen synthesis (not fat). This glucose will come from starch and sugars in the diet, so a typical sweet feed with cereal grains (the major source of starch) and some molasses is a good choice. After a hard, glycogen-depleting workout, offer small amounts (two to three pounds) of a grain concentrate ration as soon as 45 minutes after exercise along with good-quality forage. A second grain-concentrate meal can be given two to three hours later. An alternative is to feed a commercially available "carbo loader" product. These contain readily digestible sugars that can be used for glycogen synthesis. (A bit of Mel commentary: I learned at an AERC convention seminar that cereal grains do have a place in sports like thoroughbred racing where there is a lot of hard anearobic effort.  I wouldn't necessarily use this comment in this article to add cereal grains to my horse's diet without some additional research and what my alternatives might be, since I feel there is overwelming evidence against cereal grains in an aerobically working horse).

b. Good article at a vet doing some commentary on barefoot versus shoes.  (thank you Sharlene for posting this!!!!)
- I generally agree with everything that she says except:
"Taylor said if a rider is satisfied with his or her horse's performance level and soundness, making the change from shod to barefoot probably will not seem worth the time and effort involved. However, if a horse has hoof problems or struggles with foot lameness issues, making the switch could be well worth the hassle, she said." 

So......I would argue that the best candidates for going barefoot are those horses that already have good feet and are probably going in shoes just fine.  I didn't switch Farley out of shoes because she had issues - she had good hoof structure, didn't lose shoes, didn't pull shoes, travelled well.  In the end, the control I gained over having a barefoot horse versus being dependent on a farrier's schedule of a 6 or 9 week shoeing cycle was much less hassel. While having a lame horse or hoof problems is certainly a good catalyst for taking off the shoes - I think that saying that barefoot is more of a hassel than shoeing does a disservice to the practice. I think that this thought also introduces a bias into the perception of barefoot versus shod.  If only horses that have hoof problems are going barefoot - it isn't fair to compare the two groups (shod versus barefoot) in terms of hoof health and soundness.  Much better (IMO) to take a horse that has no problems in shoes and see what happens when they go barefoot and vice versa.  The discussion of whether a horse should/can/might go barefoot is different for the healthy horse with good hooves, than that group of horses with pathological processes in their hooves/systemic disease.

There's an awesome quote on the sidebar of this article that I really love that talks about the heel of the hoof: :)
"If the back half isn't right, you'll never get the front part right," she said. "Maybe the old adage, 'no hoof, no horse,' should become, 'no heel, no hoof, no horse?' "

4. Awesome hay feeder.  Saw this at one of my clients and was really impressed.  It's pricey, but if there was any way I could swing this and I had my horse at home, I would - the ability to feed seperate from when I wanted to go out and ride, or being able to feed my horse lunch is worth a lot.....

Here are some pictures I took of my clients, and the website.

 The hay sits on little shelves
 The programmer
 The door - she lets her horses hand out in the breeze way where the feeder is located, so she added a bar in front of the door so it doesn't get damaged when the horse leans on it.
 Batteries are in the top right hand corner.
Here's the website:

Elytes on the breast collar

Rightfully so, one of my Dear Readers asked me to post pictures of my elyte system that was described like this:

1.  Wrap several layers of electrical tape around the syringe and attach it with one "go around" with a tab.  I positioned the syringe to the tip was up, so that the salt didn't fall out.  Not much sponge water got into it. To use, unwrap, give elytes, and then unwrap tape until you have sticky again.......and reattach.
==> wasn't  very nice.....

So.....This doesn't make a lot of sense.  :).  We shall blame it on being in my last week of school, and trying to make complete sentences too soon after a 50.....

First an overall picture.

 Yes, the breast collar is on the ground and not on a horse.  What do you want from me????????  Some sort of quality.

Use your imagination.

Now that you have the orientation of the breast collar, let's zoom in on option 1, which is shown on the off side of the breast collar (near the bottom). 

I've unwrapped the electrical tape so you can see the set up better.  Note that the syringe is positioned with the tip up.  Another option would be to get wire caps to close up up the tips - but I was out of time and couldn't find my stash of them, so my tips were open.  If the tips were closed, you could put the tip up or down without having to consider either the elytes being shaken out as you trot, or water getting into the syringe when you sponged.  Some water got into this syringe, but since I administer by sucking water in the syringe anyways, I decided it didn't matter. 

The electrical tape is wrapped around the syringe several times, before wrapping it around the breast collar, with a tabbed end.  To give the elytes, you would unwrap the syringe from the breast collar, give the elytes.  Even in the presence of water and sweat the electrical tape holds well to the breast collar, but once you unwrap it, sometimes it doesn't want to stick.  So the theory was to reattach the syringe, I could unwrap the tape from the syringe until it was sticky enough to reattach to the breast collar. 

In reality, I never used this syringe during the ride because my second idea worked so much better.  In fact, I wouldn't have even tried "option 1" if I had been able to find more of my syringe containers to set up this:

2.  Take bottom part of plastic that the syringe comes in.  Tape that with electrical tape to the breast collar.  Put syringe into this holster.  Put a piece of tabbed electrical tape (or perhaps in the future, velcro?) across end and on sides of holster.  Holster filled with some water, but didn't affect the elytes.
==> worked like a charm!

I think that  with the pictures, this is self-explanatory.  Using electrical tape I taped the plastic holder to the breast collar,  I then inserted the syringe into the holster, and used another piece of electrical tape across the top of it to hold it in. 

Even with lots of sponging and scooping, there wasn't a lot of water build up in the plastic holder.  In the future I would be nice to replace the top piece of tape with something more permanent, but I didn't have any issues with the tape during the ride, even late into the ride after it had been used. 

The best part of putting my elytes on the breast collar was not having to dig for syringes in my saddle bag - where they take up room, and have a tendancy to fall out.  They were accessible and easy to get to. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sweat patterns in horses

In the various discussions on hydration on this blog, I've mentioned a couple of "rules of thumb" that can be used when estimating dehydration in a horse. 

Here's some points that I posted here from a seminar at the 2012 AERC convention (and yes, I realize that I've harped and harped and harped on this subject for the last couple of weeks....)
  • Dehydration under 5% can't be accurately identified without blood analysis. 
  •  6-7% usually has some other associated problems
  • A 12% dehydrated horse is about to die. 
  • In school we were taught to determine dehydration by deciding whether the horse was mildly dehydrated (5%), moderately dehydrated (9%), or severely dehydrated (12%).  By taking the horse's weight in kilograms (~2.2 pounds per kilogram, I tend to use 400kg for the average arab that is 800-1000 pounds), and applying the % estimated dehydration, you can calculate the approximate amount of liters that the horse is deficient.  For example, a 5% dehydrated 400kg horse = 5%*400 = ~20 liters.  (3.8 liters per gallon, so 20L = 5 1/4 gallons of water) Thus, this horse needs to consume 5+ gallons over and above it's maintenance fluid requirement in order to rehydrate (FYI - average maintenance fluid requirement for adult mammals in in the neighborhood of 2-4ml/kg/hour, depending on size etc).
  • Average endurance horse is 5% dehydrated - regardless of whether its a 50 mile or a 100 mile. (Some interesting theories such as after 50 miles the thirst mechanisms finally catch up, or the coolness of the night/slowing down helps etc.)
  • Difference between tolerable dehydration and treatment is 2-3 gallons of water.  (it's really really easy to stuff 2-3 gallons of water into a mash with only a couple pounds of pellets!!!!)
  • The difference between tolerable dehydration and “about to die” is 8 gallons of water.
  • If you are a numbers person, using the math already discussed's how it works out: The moderately dehydrated horse (assume 9% and 400kg body weight) is missing 36 liters, or about 9 1/2 gallons of water.  The 12% (about to die) severely dehydrated horse is missing 48 liters or about 12 1/2 gallons of water.  
  • Trailering loss is 0.8 gal per hour, 1% dehydrated per 90 min travel. Thus, 8 hour trip produces a horse that is 5% dedicated upon arrival (6.25 gallons low). --> these numbers were given in Dr. Susan Garlinghouse's seminar. 

A very important point to notice above is that everything addressed above about a horse that is 5% dehydrated or more.
--> clinically dehydration isn't seen until a horse is approximately 5% dehydrated.  At this point they are considered "mildly" dehydrated. recently published an article on some recent research that looks at estimating fluid losses in horses BELOW that 5%!!!!  I think this is very exciting - because although I think all of us as horse people can make a good guess on whether our mounts are dehydrated or not, these types of tools and parameters provide us with even more information that we can use to evaluate our horses BEFORE they end up 5 gallons deficient. Because once they show clinical dehydration, you are only gallons of unconsumed water away to the level of dehdyration needing treatment. 

There is a reason that we hammer hydration hydration hydration in this sport.  The better we can educate ourselves, the better decisions we can make on the rides when it comes to our mounts. 

This research is very preliminary (hasn't even been printed yet - just epublished, but is going to come out as a future article in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Nutrition) and it's unclear how results may differ from the study population and conditions, but it's interesting to evaluate. 

Here is the link to the abstract in Pubmed

Here is a link to the article

Here is a link to the full article from the Journal

It has been added to the Mendeley Journal club (see sidebar of the blog). 

Additionally, here are some other articles that might interest you!  These are older papers (late '90s) but still good information if you want to learn more about the subject.

Comparison of three methods for estimation of exercise-related ion losses in the sweat of horses
- Pubmed

Sweating. Fluid and ion losses and replacement

Sweat fluid and ion losses in horses during training and competition in cool vs. hot ambient conditions: implications for ion supplementation.
- Pubmed 
- Article
- Added to journal club

PS. This was NOT my electrolyte post :)  Just a random article that I saw that I wanted to share with you.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

CC #3

OMG I'm already behind on about a gazillion posts that need to go up. 

Consider this the last Cache Creek post as I think this completes the random things I wanted to talk about. 

Remember me going through the steps of gluing on boots?  Now, various, seemingly minor steps were highlighted in the video as very important!  Do not skip!.

So what did I do on my fourth boot (a hind)?  I accidentally skipped one of those steps.  Specifically scuffing the inside of the boot with sandpaper ontop of the (already) scuffed factory surface.

Chalk this up to being DONE with glueing after spending 1 1/2 hours on it.  I was sweating.  I had completly exhausted my attention span for a reptitive mundane task.  And so....I forgot on of the do-not-skip-this-is-important-steps. 

Turns out that step IS important. 

I finished the ride with 3 glueons.  Guess which boot came off at mile 40?  Yep.

Oh, and for the sake of completeness, it took 30 minutes to take off the glueons.  And that's without addressing the gobs of glue that still remain on her feet, that I will have to attack this weekend. 

I'm not trying to discourage people from gluing on boots.  Heaven knows that I am grateful that there is alternative to both shoes and strapons if I need them.  But I AM reminding myself that glueons are not the easy simple answer and I really do love my strapons and gluing on is not something I want to get myself into on a regular basis.

Human footwear
Funder and I ride in the same shoes (I have the Lychee color).  She asked me recently whether she should plan on going up a size for longer rides because of swelling in the feet. 

The rest of you probably could not care less about this section.  Feel free to skip down to the next section.....

I've done a ride and tie in these shoes and ran in them, but hadn't done any real distance until Saturday.  I was a little worried because over the last 6 months, since I bought the shoes, my feet have gotten even wider and as a result after runs my little toes have been a bit pressure sensitive afterwards!!!!!!  (I'm barefoot almost full time now, with a shoe that absolutely doesn't touch my toes at all and so my feet seem to still be adapting to my barefoot, standing lifestyle - just like a newly converted horse :)). Any swelling making these fit tighter was going NOT be good. 

I'm happy to report that if anything the shoes fit BETTER at the end of the ride.  Absolutely NO impingement on my toes and NO pressure soreness.  They aren't leather and I wouldn't expect them to stretch to any appreciable degree, but I think some how they did. 

The best thing about running in barefoot shoes was being able to do creek crossings that happen to be on my dismounted sections without worrying about my socks getting wet (because I don't wear them) or my shoes getting soggy (because there isn't enough shoe to get soggy). 

The second best thing about these barefoot shoes is being able to throw them in the washer and get all the sweat, dirt etc off them after the ride :)

I HIGHLY recommend switching out the laces to whatever your riding footwear is to those locking elastic type laces.  This was the first ride I didn't have to stop and retie laces or ducttape my laces.  And I think the elastic laces contributed significantly to my food comfort throughout the ride. 

The helmet decorations.....
Even though orange is the BEST, I think I need a blue mohawk to set off my awesome tights.  What do you guys think?  People kept thinking I was a chicken :(.

And what about the thing that I have now dubbed "the helmet skirt"?  COMPLETELY AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!  OMG I don't know how I lived without it.  It is so much better than the ducttape+hankerchief solution.  It doesn't block noise or air flow, and doens't hold heat because it is a perforated fabric.  It kept me a precieved 10 degrees cooler than it actually was, didn't interfere with my sight or hearing. 

The problem?  it's yellow.  Don't you guys agree that it should either be orange or blue?  I think so too.  So now I need find a perforated blue exercise fabric, deliver to my mother, and beg her to make me a helmet skirt. BTW - in case you missed it, she also makes my mohawks.  I think she should start a business that does nothing but helmet decorations :). 

And now for the best part
Absolutely no bruises, chafing, or rubbing on my part.  I think that is a first for me.  I was symmetrically sore on each side of my body, and my entire leg (glutes, hams, quads, and calves) hurt equally instead of my calves being swollen and angry because of elyte and bracing issues in the saddle.  Getting off and running helped me IMMENSELY. 

I was sore on Sunday, incapacitated on Monday (wonderful 48 hour delayed onset muscle soreness), better on Tuesday and totally fine on Wednesday.  And now for a very short soapbox - because I had no indication of an injury I did NOT take any ibprofen.  There is no good evidence that ibprofen reduces the duration of DOMS and it may actually hinder the muscle's ability to adapt (ie get stronger from) to the work load that it was under.  With no evidence of an injury, and wanting to get the most bang for my buck for the amount of exercise versus muscle conditioning, I elected to go "vitamin I" free during my recovery period.  On the flipside, it IS important to reduce inflammation and so there is a balance between allowing a potentially inflammatory process to go on and its implications, and reducing it pharmacologically.  Based on what I have read, unless there's a pathologic condition (such as an injury) causing pain, I'm comfortable with letting my body deal with the "normal" inflammation that occurs after a hard workout.  I don't work out again until the soreness is gone. Something to think about :). 

Alrighty!!!!!  That's it for Cache creek.  Onto more exiciting things - such as crewing for a 100, pictures of the elyte system I attempted to describe, trailering, and some really cool new products.  :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

CC part 2

The Heat - Horse
20MT 2011 made me feel like a real endurance rider because I managed an issue (a hind end that really really wanted to cramp) related to how cold the temperature was, for most of the ride. AND we absolutely rode the ride I *wanted* to ride.  At no point did I give up and just let Farley do what she wanted because it was easier.

I felt the same way about this ride.  I ACTIVELY managed a horse through a ride with a very high heat index and actually made a difference of how and whether we finished. 

I think going into a ride with a perfectly conditioned horse and relying on the heat/hill/mileage conditioning and not worrying about actively managing the heat because you know the horse will take care of itself is not necessarily a bad thing.  This is how I've rode Farley most of her career.  However, it's a really really good feeling to know that if things don't go perfectly I DO know what I'm doing, and I DO know how to mitigate trail and weather conditions. 

Here's some of the things I did to keep her cool and hydrated.  A lot of these are common sense, but maybe there is a little something in here you can use someday :).  This list is also going to serve as a reference for me to look back at before my next hot ride as a reminder of what worked!

Rehydrating at the trailer overnight
I had to trailer Farley into ride camp the heat of the day.  I put a "milkshake mash" in the trailer, but also left the hay in because if she didn't eat the mash, having more hay in her gut (besides the obvious help of eating more calories etc.) would help my nutrition long term because hay in the gut can absorb more muscle and hold more moisture in the horse.  I also left the hay in, because it was left over from the bale and my only other option was to dump it out on the ground and at 28 bucks a bale I figured on this trip she could have hay in the trailer instead of just milkshakes......

She came off the trailer slightly dehydrated.....

Here's where it is tricky.  All other parameters didn't show dehydration.  Skin tenting showed a slight dehydration.  Skin tent is probably the least reliable hydration parameter - it depends on elasticity of the skin, the amount of fat in the skin, genetics, head position, and the person performing the test. 

However, considering that there is a rate of dehydration that occurs in the trailer, even in moderate weather....and it was HOT....if I wasn't dealing with an apparent dehydration [5% dehydrated before you can see it clinically in the hydration parameters, which means for ~800 pound horse you are already 20 liters (~5 gallons) short when you first notice the dehydration], she could still be missing anywhere from 1-4 gallons!!!!!!!!  A deficit I did NOT want going into a very hot 50......

So I made it my mission to rehydrate her over night. 

I feed stable mix, which is a complete feed when fed at a relatively high number of pounds so I felt safe giving her lots and lots of wet mashes that night because I was still no where near the feeding recommendation.  So Farley got the wetest-standing-water-on-top mashes that I could make until about midnight (an idea I got from Irish Horse).  When I declared that she could stop nickering at me for mashes and just eat her hay. 

The morning came and she peed a wonderful color of pee and we were ready to go. 

A cool horse drinks.  A hot horse might not.

We started the ride and she characteristically still hadn't drank really well by the first vet check at 12.5 miles.  I asked the vet and he said that was typical of the horses that he had seen.  Since she wouldn't necessarily be drinking at this point I didn't freak out.  In the middle of the second loop she started drinking out of water troughs and I knew that from this point forward she should be drinking. 

I carry a sponge, but knowing that I would be able to scoop out of some of the troughs, but not sponge, I ran over and bought a scoop from a vendor the night before the ride.  Thank goodness.

The next water trough we came too, she wouldn't drink.  But I knew it was time.  I dismounted and started scooping (it was a location that allowed scooping).  By the time I had cooled her neck, Farley was drinking. 

At that point I knew I had an important piece of information: if the heat load was too high (ie - Farley was too hot) she wouldn't drink.  Her not drinking was a signal that I needed to do some work with the scoop to lower her temperature. 

Normally Farley, being heat tolerant, is good at dissapating a heat load and is just annoyed and shivery with excessive cooling, but on this ride, scooping and sponging were incredibly important to keep her drinking throughout the ride.

Tack choice
I chose my lightest saddle and pad that covered the least amount of surface area.

I got off her back
I knew I needed to get off her back to reduce her amount of work she was performing, which would help reduce the heat she was generating, but it would also help her dissapate some of that heat load.  I was NOT going to be efficient going up hill, but figured I could go downhill all day. 

This strategy refreshed her more than I would have thought possible.  Everytime I got back on after jogging down a hill, it was like she had gotten a power burst.  It did good things for me too and I rode better for longer.

I stayed in the shade as long as possible, while still moving.
It sounds totally opposite of what you should do......but you should move faster in the sun, and slower in the shade.  It really really works! If you don't believe me, go out for a run in the hottest part of the day and try it yourself.  It's remarkable how much heat load can be dissapated by walking in the shade and jogging/trotting in the sunny portions of the trail.  If Farley had gotten really tired I would have utilized the same concept in a different way: for example getting off and jogging the sunny patches and riding at a walk in the shade.  Or walking the sun and resting stopped in the shade.  Or dismounting and walking in the sun and then mounting in the shade.  You get the idea. 

I rode faster in the morning
But not too fast :).  This was a strategy I tried to utilize in a previous hot ride on Minx and it back fired at me - I went too fast in the morning and then didn't slow down enough once it started to heat up (plus I didn't do some of the other strategies listed here).

Knowing that the heat was coming - as long as the vet checks indicated that everything still looked really good AND she was still able to dissipate heat well enough using the various strategies listed here - I trotted EVERYTHING that wasn't straight up hill, and I got off and RAN the down hills on foot.  And on the flats we trotted FAST.  As it got hotter and her heat load increased, we slowed down. 

Again, it's important to know your horse - Farley was showing her heat load through a reluctance to heat and drink when it got too high - it didn't seem to affect her willingness to go forward.  So even if she wanted to trot and canter forward, our speed was always evaluated against her performance at the last water trough. 

I think it is possible to go too slow at a hot ride......The heat load is going to continue to build and there is a point where going slow on the trail is working against you getting back to camp and putting the horse on the trailer in the shade and stripping tack.  It's a fine line to balance - how long does the horse hold and build the heat load while on the trail, versus how long they are on the trail?  I've had discussions with other endurance riders over the years over whether a 12 hour 50 really is the kindest/easiest thing to do for a horse.  You certainly don't want to go to fast, but if I can ride a conservative 50 in 8 or 9 hours, that is 3 or 4 less hours that I'm spending on the horses' back.  Of course the bottom line is that you don't want to override a horse and try to do a 5 hour 50 if you are conditioned for a 9.  But don't do a 12 if you are conditioned for a 9 thinking that it's somehow better on some intrinsic principle.

This general concept is why I ended up riding a midpack 50 (32/70 finishers, 88 starters) instead of a back of the pack 50.  I was trying to minimize the time she had to be out in the heat, while never getting to the point where the heat load she was carrying was a real problem.  It's like marathoning for humans - A really fast race is hard and a really slow race is hard.  A fast race relies on good cardio etc., but a really slow race requires you to spend 4.5-5 hours on your feet.  There's a magic place in there where it's not too hard from a cardio/phyisological standpoint, but you also aren't spending an inordinate amount of time on your feet. If you ever watch a marathon finisher line, the people in the top 3rd look tired, the people in the middle 3rd look great, and the people in the bottom 3rd look terrible.  I think a hot endurance ride can be the same. 

I monitored her after the ride, and was reminded that movement and offering multiple sources of water are important.
I did not put Farley, who was clinically dehydrated in the trailer.  At BEST you will sustain a neutral hydration in the trailer.  PROBABLY the horse won't drink enough to meet their ongoing hourly fluid needs and end up more dehydrated at the end of the ride, even with a short ride.  Big deal in a hydrated horse?  probably not.  Big deal in a horse that was probably 7-8% dehydrated?  YES!!!!!  Because at the end of that trailer ride you could easily have a horse that is 10 or 12% dehydrated or more.  NOT bueno for the horse.  BTW - the majority of horses finishing any endurance ride have some level of dehydration.

I will admit that that I use the term "monitored" loosely.  I was, at this point, flat on my back with a migraine.  I had an airmattress at the side of my truck, I made sure that Farley was in the shade, with hay and water and a mash, with carrots scattered on the ground.  I had a vet school classmate who had also ridden the ride come over and check her gut sounds with me (quiet but there) and proceeded to try and sleep. 

I opened my eyes and it was still light.  I led her to the water trough where she drank deeply.  During the walk she was attacking little clumps of grasses and left over hay from other people's rigs, even though she was ignoring the hay at the trailer.

This illustrates 2 principles.  I had home water at the trailer, but I was very glad I made the effort to lead her to the water trough. Another thing to remember is that horses are made to move and sometimes all it takes if a short little walk around RC and they are stimulated to eat and drink.  Ideally I probably would have taken the time to hand graze her and walk her more, but I physically couldn't, she was picking at her hay at the trailer, and I knew sundown was just around the corner, so I just waited.

When I opened my eyes again it was dark and she was crunching carrots, drinking and eating. 

BTW I've seen this at hot 100's too - where she'll be a bit hot in the afternoon, but after the sun goes down she comes alive again and her hydration parameters recover as long as we slow down in those hot afternoon hours. 

One last note
After attending Dr. Susan Garlinghouse's seminar on horse hydration I replaced my 5 gallon bucket and black muck bucket that had been using for horse water at the trailer with a shallow 10 gallon pan that allows the horse to have their eyes above the level of the pan, even when the water level is low.  The bucket depth and whether horses were required to dip their heads in past eye level was cited as one factor in how much horses drank at the trailer.

What about elytes?
You notice that the management strategies that I listed above do not include elytes.  I gave a very conservative amount of elytes during the ride.  And I do not believe that they significantly contributed to either her hydration or how she went through the ride.  I think that elytes rank below the above strategies as a heat and hydration management strategy.  Yes, I have an elyte post coming up :)

Crupper needed?
Very unrelated.....but the last point of this post is that I'm going to have to try and put a crupper on Farley.  I used one with Minx, but haven't gotten around to teaching Farley to go in one.  However, after this ride she had some girth sensitivity that was from the girth and saddle sliding forward, so that's going to be my next project :).  After Tevis 2010 I saw the same thing, especially after the California Loop, so I know I'll want one for Tevis this summer, so now's the time. 


Here's the deal.

1. The saddle has a good sweat pattern but not a great one
2. The saddle puts me in a pretty bad chair seat
3. Her back looked PERFECT after this 50 - I had the vet take a second look at it knowing that I'm trying to make some saddle decisions for my upcoming rides.

What do you guys think? 

My wintec dressage by far gives me a really good (basically perfect) sweat pattern, but the lack of d rings, the rise of the pommel, and the straight flap make it difficult to ride on technical trail. 

The Aussie is a bit heavy and big for a long hot ride.

How important/bad is the fact it puts me in a chair seat, beyond the fact that it isn't pretty? 

Would a wintec allpurpose give me a similar pattern, with the more appropriate flap and rise?  Does anyone have one I could try out before I try to find a used one in my price range? 

Do I try to put spacers on my stirrup bars and see if that helps the chair seat?

Any other ideas? 

CC part 1

These are the posts that I will randomly explore different aspects and equipment of the Cache creek ride, in no particular order, and with no real plan.  Lengths of these posts will be entirely dictated by the amount of time I have between/during classes :).

The Spackle!!!!!
Which still needs an awesome name.

It was totally awesome.  With some caveats.

1. did not want to squeeze out of the tube.  I was hoping after it heated up it would become more liquid, but it stayed fairly viscous.  It might because I made it with honey instead of agave.  The good news is that the best way to eat it, even in the afternoon, was to break off chunks from the stuff I had in baggies.  So - I still need to find a delivery system.  Don't laugh at me, but I'm thinking about modifying some of my elyte syringes for in the saddle eating, and looking into some better baggies/containers for saddle bags so that I can stand there at the out timers eating chunks of it.

2. The oil falls out of solution.  Must switch to coconut oil or reduce the oil.

Formulation and delivery aside - this was the only thing (besides applesauce......) that went down good all day and I could go on eating it without suddenly hitting a "wall" that happens with my other foods (going good going good.....and then BAM I'm nauseous and have to spit out whatever is in my mouth).  It was TASTY.  It was GOOD.  It was CALORIE DENSE and really easy to eat chunks out of the bag without water as I stood there waiting for my out time.

And other food.....
Cold Pizza was GREAT the day before, went down OK during breakfast, had a hard time with it at lunch.

Cliff blocks was what I ended up with instead of my preferred honey stinger brand, but they were fine.  Never made me nauseous.  Weren't especially yummy but were neutral which is sometimes the best you can hope for :)

Applesauce: yum...........

The ride management provided breakfast and dinner so I tried some other stuff.

Fruit juice: Ick 
Soda: good for 2 or 3 sips
Sandwich: didn't even upwrap
Trail mix: see sandwich notes
Fruit salad: AWESOME!!!!  part of the dinner - it looked really simple - just large chunks of melon and citris etc........but I could have eaten 5 gallons of the stuff.
Chicken: ick
rice stuff: ick
peanut butter cookies: YUM (part of dinner)

The heat - human
I drank and drank and drank.  I was taking elytes in my water, elytes in capsules and eating - a combination of fat, carbs, and proteins.  I still got a heat headache in the afternoon.  I switched to water for a couple of hours to see if that was the issue.  Nope.

I am very heat tolerant.  I regularly run in the middle of the day in the sun.  I do have elyte issues, but it doesn't seem to correlate with hot weather - it usually manifests as nausea and calf cramping and only happens when I ride (not when I run) and will happen no matter how cool the weather.  So, in general, assuming I have enough water, don't get sunburnt etc I don't even notice the heat.

I talked to other people at the ride that are generally heat tolerant and they were complaining of issues too, so I definitely wasn't alone.  I compared the total amount of fluids I consumed and I was consuming as much or more as anyone there.

I'm tempted to chalk up the fact that I got dehydrated and got a dehydration related migraine post ride to how hot and humid this ride was, and how early it was in the season.  Especially because I did NOT get calf cramps!!!!!!  If you don't count the LD I did last fall, this is the FIRST endurance ride that I didn't get calf cramps from a probably elyte problem --> which is one more thing that makes me think that heat issues at this ride were truly because of a high heat index and the impossibility of drinking enough water - my elytes were probably OK. 

I'm not sure what else I could have done besides not ridden :).  So.  I'll monitor it on my next ride and hopefully it works itself out.

Carrying Elytes on the horse.
I tried 2 different methods of attaching elytes to my breast collar
1.  Wrap several layers of electrical tape around the syringe and attach it with one "go around" with a tab.  I positioned the syringe to the tip was up, so that the salt didn't fall out.  Not much sponge water got into it. To use, unwrap, give elytes, and then unwrap tape until you have sticky again.......and reattach.
==> wasn't  very nice......

2.  Take bottom part of plastic that the syringe comes in.  Tape that with electrical tape to the breast collar.  Put syringe into this holster.  Put a piece of tabbed electrical tape (or perhaps in the future, velcro?) across end and on sides of holster.  Holster filled with some water, but didn't affect the elytes.
==> worked like a charm!

Got to go, more later. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

CC pictures

...Because I'm going into surgery in 5 minutes and don't have time to write a real post.  Sorry!

Somewhere I took a picture of her pre race.  Where that picture might be I have no idea........
Above: Farley at the 25 mile mark

 Irish horse and Major enjoying some rest and food at 25 miles.

Farley the morning afterwards.

Can you pick up your head so I can get a pretty picture for the blog?  

 EEEEKKK!!  Bad angle! 

Was too tired to try and get better shots of "post ride".

Below: Irish horse got a good shot of me and Farley coming up "Berkley hill" (ie the big hill on the blue loop). 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cache creek

I will give you the story and the gear and the lessons learned post.....but before that you have to grant me one, just ONE post of raving about Farley. Consider this the post about my horse and Cache creek. The gear and tricks learned will come next.

Farley may be that one great horse in my lifetime.


This ride proved more than anything that our past successes are absolutely NOT due to me as some sort of wonderful endurance rider, but to her phenomenal physiology that comes together in a way that makes this sport relatively easy for her.

I'm probably an average endurance rider. After 20 MT in 2011 I remember posting about I felt like I had finally become a "real" endurance rider because I actually rode and managed my horse throughout the race, and Cache creek gave me the same feeling - it was an extremely challenging day and through knowledge and experience I was able to manage pacing and hydration to complete 50 miles in about 9:15, about 1 1/2 hours before cut off.

But that does not explain how we finished that ride yesterday.

First off, it was THE most humid ride I've done to date, combined with high temperatures (mid nineties) for a heat index that was well above the 150 "danger zone". Not usually a problem for a mid summer or fall ride, but for a May ride those are very hot temperatures indeed.

Upon realizing what the temperatures PLUS humidity was going to be I quickly realized there were 3 facts of life going into Saturday.

1. We did not have the heat training to do this ride.

2. We did not have the hill training to do this ride.

3. We did not have the mileage to do this ride.

Facts 2 and 3 have been around for a while and I had a plan for managing them. Adding in fact 1 made my life complicated.

I haven't been exactly straight forward about what I've done conditioning wise with Farley because it hasnt been much. I did a hot fast LD (30 miles) on her last September. Starting in March I've been getting on her 2-3 times a week and doing anywhere from 3-10 miles per ride, mostly intervals (trot, canter, gallop), although there's been weeks I've not ridden. I've gone up to Auburn mid day and got in some afternoon hills in the sun with lots of trotting. Two weeks ago I went camping at Cache creek and got some where in the neighborhood of 24 miles in over 2 days. Alot of walking and hill miles, but a lot of cantering and galloping too.

That's it folks. This 50 was where I was either going to come to a reality check when it came to my endurance plans this year, or (unfathomably) be impressed enough to take a chance.

Heres the other facts of life when it comes to endurance on Farley

1. She has 2 pulls. Both on 100's, both due to lameness/injuries.

2. She has probably some of the best heat metabolic I've ever seen in a horse. She can canter into gate and go's at Tevis and be below 60 by the time I dismount. She does not require a lot of sponging and scooping - over cooling her will cause her to shiver.

3. Farley takes care of herself and doesn't hide stuff

4. She's short and I can get on and off her how ever many times I need to during a ride.

There were 4 loops on this ride - each 12.5 miles long. Here's how the ride went down.

Loop 1 (Red)

This was one of those "1 in 7" starts I have with Farley when she's a maniac and is attempting to go at Mach speed from mile one. I was already having flash backs to 2 rides in particular, both done on Minx, both resulting in pulls. American river it was cold all week and then was over a 100 on ride day. We didnt make it. Mount Diablo I had to trailer her over to the ride camp in the middle of a hot day, and then once we got to ride camp there was zero shade. And then it was even hotter the next day (115 or something ridiculous like that), they ran out of water, it was hilly, and I pulled at lunch with no gut sounds. Only to find that you couldn't stay the night at RC and I had to put my horse back into the trailer that evening and take her home. So yeah. I don't have a great history with hot early season rides - at least on a Standardbred. Anyways - back to Cache Creek. I had to trailer Farley into RC 3:30-4:30 and she was slightly dehydrated coming off the trailer. I made it my mission to rehydrate her that night and everything looked good in the morning. So off we go with a horse who has a slightly different ride plan than I do. My plan: trot everything that isn't straight up hill, get off and jog the downhills. Farley's plan: Pass that horse and that horse and that horse and that horse and charge up that hill and that hill and that hill and race down that hill and that hill and that hill and then use that ditch as a cross country jump and that log as a jump and then stop to drink and eat and repeat.


I did let her got at a faster trot on the "flats" (ie the parts that weren't straight up or down) in the morning and trot up *some* of the hills because I knew the cool hours were going to be precious few. Starting in this first loop I did get off and jogged the down hills. This is the first ride that I've consistently gotten off from the beginning to the end and it definitely helped me as much as the horse.

After claiming to have completely forgotten all ground manners for a good 2 miles down to the first vet check, we vetted in.

Vet check 1

P&R at 52, walked over to the vet where he pronounced her good. Not even a watch on the gaits or a slight uneveness, or a comment about hydration. And it wasn't just nice vets - I saw 5 people ahead and around me go through with "there's something about that left front". Wow. OK. This is good.

Loop 2 (White)

More trotting, more jogging, in these last couple hours of cool. The last half of the loop was hot, and she finally started to drink really well at the water troughs on the trail. I found out that scooping water on her actually encouraged her to drink instead of just annoying her so for the rest of the ride I concentrated on scooping and reducing her heat load as much as possible. I don't remember much of this loop, except, although vet check 1 had reset the "button" some what she was still really really strong and my abs, shoulders, and arms were really feeling it. At the end of this loop we had 25 miles and even though I've done a lot of rides on this horse, I felt like my first 50, when everything past the LD distance is an unknown. The thought that kept passing through my head was "of course we will get to the lunch stop - we've trained for that, but further than that?".

It was going to be a hot ride so the vets instituted a respiration requirement to the pulse requirement and I was nervous because I've never monitored that on Farley. I've never noticed her panting, but since I'd never been required to make sure it was under 60/min what if I screwed up and pulsed her in too early with an inverted pulse and respiration?

Was never an issue all day even though there were lots of horses around me that had delayed P&Rs because of it.

Vet check 2

Vetted in at 48. Really?????? Totally sound. No watches. No comments. B for hydration parameters. Vets assured me that they were seeing that on everyone. This is when I started looking for more reassurance from the vets. "Are you sure she looks good? are you sure she's sound?". (unsaid was "you have no idea how underprepared we are for this, and there has to be something.....). I found myself actually bringing stuff up like "she seems to have some more gas than normal on the trail" because I really really really wanted to make sure that everything was really really really ok because this trail and ride was really really really hard. (I was told "don't worry about the gas").

My standard phrase for when asked how my ride was going from that point onward was "I'm having a better ride than I deserve or could expect".

I met the lovely Irish horse and Major at this point and her (even lovelier) boyfriend crewed for me. It was wonderful. We rode off and on together for the rest of the ride and finished within minutes of each other at the end.

Loop 3 (Blue)

We were warned of a ginormous hill on this loop. It was the talk of the trail. Irish horse had ridden with some people earlier where all they talked about was how bad the hill was and how they puked on the way up. I was really really really nervous that it was going to be like training hill (cue flashback to American River with Minx). I had decided the night before that Berkely hill might be the hill of the ride that I would end up leading up even though Farley and I had a pact of "you carry my ass up the hill and I'll lead you down it".

Farley was still wanting to trot and was quite strong so I made another pact. I would not ask her to trot but if she broke into a trot, I would let her trot a 100 yards before I made her walk. In this fashion I would make sure that she wasn't getting caught up in some sort of race brain that was going to kill us in the heat. We went along comfortably in this fashion, doing lots of trotting in short segments. She was still offering to trot up hills but I decided that our pact applied to mostly flat ground. I let her have one short canter just for fun, and yes, we may have trotted up a couple of hills, but I always made sure that anything we were doing above a walk was her asking, not me telling. As far as I was concerned, we had entered the realm of "no-mans'-land" of the ride where I didn't know what the hell to expect, but I hadn't expected to have this much horse.

We went up up up a hill. It was pretty steep. But not that long. "is this Berkely?" I asked myself? There has to be more. A little flat section and then a little more up.....but that was it. Huh? Farley stopped once in a shade patch for maybe 10 seconds, but beyond that had power walked up the hill and never gave me any indication I should get off.

It was after that hill that I started to think I had a real shot at finishing this ride and perhaps even doing it in such a fashion that wasn't too embarrassing.

Vet check 3

Lots and lots and lots of hot horses here with loads of water being dumped on them. I dumped some water on Farley and then P&Red and vetted in. Totally sound. No watches. B on gut and hydration. "Been seeing it all day" I was told. "Looks totally average for the horses coming through here" I was told. "The top horses that have gone through here have looked exactly the same" I was told. Can you tell that I was asking the vets whether everything was REALLY ok?

You mean she isn't sore or have cramping due to all these hills? Or the fact we haven't done this in 2 freakin' YEARS????????

Are you sure?

The only thing wrong is some Bs for hydration?

Because I'm pretty sure I've NEVER gone through a ride with this horse where at SOME POINT I didn't a B for gaits or muscle tone.

She's a little tired - I told the vets.

So are most of the other others - I was told.

Loop 4 (purple)

The heat load was starting to build up in the horses and I could see it in Farley. She was eating, but not diving into her food the way she usually is, so I decided to ride a very conservative. I calculated it, and even with walking most of the last loop I would get in one hour before cut off. Farley was mostly content to give me a good strong power walk but was still asking to trot. If the footing was good and it was mostly flat I would give her the OK and we did some trotting. Getting off and running the downhills REALLY helped decrease or at least minimize the heat load in the later parts of the day. She visibly looked cooler when I would get to the bottom of the hill. She wasn't even taking advantage of me mounting to take a break and rest - we do moving mounts during rides and she was walking and trotting off as I mounted and dismounted.


I saw a horse on the trail a couple miles from camp that was in trouble and being treated by the vet. I looked at the horse and recognized the "look". I've seen it in Minx, and I've seen it in Farley (most notably in Tevis) of a horse that was done for that day.

Farley definitely did not have that look yesterday.

About 5 miles from RC she started to ask to canter. Absolutely not. We have NOT come this far to do something that stupid in the heat of the day. I'm happy that you are feeling so good, but that is NOT what is going to happen.

At 2 miles from RC she refused to even LOOK at the water because we were almost.there.

1 mile from RC she started threatening to buck me off and jig.

Right.....because jigging is the fastest way for me to throw the reins at her and let her just trot/canter/gallop as fast as she wants towards RC. NOT!!!!!!!!

We practiced WALKING.

She rewarded that lesson by attempted to rear and buck me off at the in timers when I had to hand them my card.

I had a lot of horse left.

Final vet check

"Still has quite a bit of bounce to her step" I was told at the final vet check.

OK - color me shocked because NO ONE has EVER accused Farley of having a "bounce" to her step at ANY POINT during a ride before. She's not a pretty mover - she's efficient.

When asked how I thought she was doing, my response was that I thought she was a little hydrated and tired, but that I thought she was OK. The vet agreed. She pulsed in at 68 (I always vet her in as soon as I can because she tends to "shut down" during vet checks and take naps and trying to vet her in 30 minutes into the check seems cruel and unusual, so I usually take a hit on my gut sounds, but she stays happier. ) with a similar respiration, so he did comment that she was probably still a little hot.

There wasn't a line, so I asked the vet to give her a more thorough look over because of her history, my goals, and because I'm using a new saddle. The vet, who knew my history with this horse (and knows I'm a vet student) patiently explained that yes, she was totally sound. No signs of ANYTHING. Nope, she didn't look stiff or sore or crampy. Back looks great - the saddle is fine (at least what can be evaluated without seeing the sweat pattern).

I was super super happy with Farley. She had stayed strong through the entire ride, and the vets had given her better scores on a very very very hard ride than what we have gotten in the past in "full" training and conditioning.

After the ride

I *think* I may have mentioned that this was probably by far the ride with the highest heat index I've ever done. I've never seen Farley hot but I was pretty sure that what was going on. Her respiration stayed elevated and she wasn't eating and drinking post ride like she usually does. One of my classmates who also did the 50 was parked next to me and I asked her if she would mind listening to Farley's gut sounds and giving me her opinion. I was at this point flat on my back with a migraine trying to resist the urge to smash my skull against the giant rock next to camp site and splatter my brains over the ground. She agreed with me - Farley did have gut sounds but they were quiet. In her opinion Farley was tired and hot. Her horse was much the same. Farley seemed fine other than that.

I had a feeling from previous rides that once the sun set, Farley would stop napping and start eating. That didn't stop me from worrying of course. It seemed like everyone that had finished the ride was dealing with the same issues, so I kept telling myself to just be patient. Farley ALWAYS naps after a ride, and she was swishing at flies and had gut sounds. Let her do her thing.

I woke up after dark to the sound of her crunching the carrots I had left on the ground for her and drinking and eating and pooping.

In the morning I woke up to a horse that looks fully rehydrated, has lots of perfectly colored pee, and dragged me around ride camp looking for the most scrumptious clumps of grass.


She didn't look this good after our first LD

She didn't look this good after our first 50. (even though we had trained for it, done several LD's prior to it, and it was an easier, cooler 50)

She looks better this morning than she has at any comparable hot 50 we've ever done before - usually she still looks a bit tired and gaunt if it's been a hard hot ride.

I felt her legs: totally cool and tight. SHE HAS NEVER HAD ABSOLUTELY ZERO FILLING ON HER FRONTS. Sometimes I go out to the stable and she is slightly filled. No wrapping or pouliticing was done because I was trying to die that night. No walking was done.

I trotted her out - bouncy and sound. Not stiff and sore at all.

We trailered home and I turned her out into the arena. She TROTTED out away from me. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rolled, got up and went to explore the arena and what little edibles there might be.


So here's the bottom line for me

1. She felt great for the entire ride and kept wanting to move forward at speed.

2. She vetted in great all day.

3. ALL physiological parameters looked great the next day.

4. The only caveat to our greatness was a heat related issue after the ride. Considering that the cool weather and very few heat spells up to this point in the season, we were not able to get the heat training in. LOTS of other teams were having this issue, not just us. This is a fixable issue before Tevis.

I think the most important parameters that tells me Tevis isn't a pipe dream is the lack of soreness, stiffness, or any indication that she was over ridden. Heat training is fixable and probably would have been an issue this early in the season if we HAD been training for it.

I'm not sure how she's doing it, but some how I'm able to pull from her base of 2 years ago. My guess that it goes back to good genetics and having a solid base (even if it was some time ago.) She's always been able to maintain fitness without a ton of mileage, is relatively heat tolerant, has good trail sense and pacing, and really stable physiology (I think that heat tolerance is probably highly correlated with a horse that is able to compensate and maintain their internal electrolytes and balance respiration with other physiologic parameters so that they don't get too out of whack - I had a good conversation with a vet about electrolytes that I will share in a later post that relates to this). Whatever secrete mare paddock workouts she's doing, I hope she keeps doing it.

Can you tell I'm a bit in shock how it all turned out. I am not shocked that we finished - I wouldn't have started if I hadn't had a good shot at finishing. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the horse that I had yesterday. I still cannot freakin' believe it.