Sunday, July 7, 2013

Gold Country 2013

This was almost a post full of inappropriate, barely veiled wiener jokes, but fortunately after giving everyone a good show of it Friday afternoon, Scrappy kept it in his pants the rest of the weekend. And therefor this will be a totally serious, no nonsense write up with just the facts--and the facts are, the ride vet actually opened his part of the Friday night meeting with a wiener joke! True story.

Anyway, the long and short of it--HAH--is that I have myself a seriously wonderful new horse. Rushcreek Tracer, "Scrappy," is smart, sweet, quiet, engaged, cute, forward, smooth, and loves to eat and drink. He also apparently finds buckskin Mustangs rather inspiring, and as such went for our short ride Friday afternoon with his flag flying High! Keep in mind I'd had him for a week and have never taken an essentially unknown horse to a ride right off the bat like that. I didn't know if he was going to mount something or WHAT was going to happen, but I did know that the scandalized ladies walking by whispering, "OMG, that horse had an erection!!!" had me almost as entertained as I was concerned. Despite the grand display Scrappy never escalated from there, he gave some throaty little stallion  nickers but would then see a horse or something else and wander off to eat. We rode the LD Saturday with N and Willow with no parts dangling in the breeze, so go figure. We'll see if this is behavior only reserved for (very flirty) mares, but it was definitely ride camp entertainment of a different sort!

To backtrack, we left Friday morning, but barely. Thursday night my husband and I went out to feed together and found my 2 yr old, Sheza, dead lame with a super swollen left hind leg and mildly swollen right hind leg. We immediately set her up in a stall with fans (this was the end of a week straight of 105+ degrees), and hosed and iced her leg that night and the next morning. Sheza was cheery and eating but VERY lame, though this was also a dramatic 2 yr old's first ever lameness so it may have looked worse than it was. She took to the hosing and ice boots impressively well, thank goodness, as neither of us had the emotional or physical energy left to be battling her to help her in the nasty heat. The swelling decreased slightly after hosings Thursday night and the lameness improved by Friday morning. I was a hot mess trying to decide if I should go the ride on my virtually unknown horse and potentially die or stay home and stare at my lame filly tragically. My husband reminded me my vet was gone til Monday anyway and told me to take a deep breath and go to my ride already, promising to keep on icing and hosing Sheza's hind legs. Thank goodness I listened to him, grabbed Scrappy from the field, and went for it.

Hey guys, I just got here, am I leaving already?

 It was an uneventful 2 hr drive out to Georgetown and the shady Dru Barner ride camp, where we found J and Sedona already arrived and saving us a spot in the sturdy permanent camp corrals.
 Scrappy backed out of the straight load beautifully (his 2nd time in a straight) and went right to work on whatever food I would put in front of him. Here's Scrappy settling in and Sedona the sexy Mustang lurking at the fence, saying "come here little boy, I'll give you some candy!"
 Another local riding buddy, C, camped next to J and eventually N found us and moved her rig over next to us, too. We were all set up for another fun ride weekend!

 Scrappy had never worn boots until I tried them on him the weekend I bought him, so this ride made it his 2nd and 3rd time ever going in boots. I stuck with front Renegades only because I've heard so many stories of people trying out hind boots at rides with varying degrees of failure, and didn't need to add yet another New Unknown to the equation. He had gone great in the Rennys through muck and water and speed and hills on our trial ride, so I felt good about his front boots.
 This was about the time in the tale that Scrappy started flying his flag, and as you know we tacked up and went for a ride in full glory, as it were. Again, barely knowing Scrappy, I just didn't know what I was in for even riding at camp, let alone the whole surprise wang-dangler thing. Scrappy was just as happy to be out and moving as it appeared he was, and walked out nicely, did all I asked,  and was happy to get back to camp and settle down to eat some more. And eat he did, chowing a half bale of hay, a bag of carrots, and about 6 mashes in the 2 days we were there.

We vetted in with a pulse of 42 and all As but a B for impulsion. Turns out Scrappy is very unimpressed by trotting out for vets, something I clearly need to practice. He unenthusiastically jogged after me for Melissa Ribley who promptly said on our return, "You know, I thought he was lame but he just moves funny!" Be still my heart, I think I lost another year off my life when I heard the word "lame" come out of her mouth, after my week of toting Desire to Loomis and back for lameness only to discover that her filly was dead lame right before leaving for the ride. Scrappy was not in fact lame, he just doesn't lift his feet very high and sort of paddles, so it does look a little funny, but is incredibly smooth to ride. Anyway we got our number chalked on up high above his big Rushcreek number and I started to breathe again.

Friday night J cooked us dinner--woohoo!--we went to the ride meeting at 8, and then it was bedtime. Well for us, not for all the camp, as there was some hootin' and hollerin' of both the horse and human kind for quite a while. I was pretty nervous that night, having no idea what I was in for at ride start in the morning, let alone throughout the 30 miles. He has a nice little record and is clearly a good, kind horse but I've been through and seen and heard enough drama in the last few years that I swear I was as nervous as if it were my first ride ever. At that point I was still wondering if he was going to go 30 miles with his junk out!!

 As usual I slept like total shit, but I could hear a fleece blanketed Scrappy steadily chewing away most of the night and that was reassuring. The 50 started at 6 am, while the 30 mile LD started at 8 am and at least one of the Ride N Ties started in between, maybe both, not sure. Camp on ride morning was the usual mix of pockets of frantic activity and moments of peace around the rigs where horses had already left. Sedona wasn't happy to be taken away from Scrappy for tacking up but she settled in, and fortunately Scrappy was great. I tacked him at the trailer and he called and looked around if I walked away but if I was with him he was totally quiet and sweet and engaged with me. Really just a phenomenal heart and brain on this guy!
 After chatting with N about what sort of ride we both wanted, we agreed to ride together again and after letting the majority of riders head away out of sight, we hit the trail for our first AERC ride together!

Scrappy is quiet but he LOVES to go, just ask his perky ears :)
 I swear this photo could be Desire, especially since he's wearing her gear
 They had switched the order of the loops this year but the trail was the same, so much of it was familiar to N and I, as we rode it together last year on Willow and Blaze. A lot of shady forested dirt road, some great single track, minimal technical footing, but a fair amount of grades. Not to say it was a steep or hilly ride necessarily, just that you were going up or down perhaps more often than you realized, with a few very short, steep sections thrown in as well.
 Trail marking was phenomenal, very clear with ribbons, plates, signs, and chalk on the ground. Water was plentiful with troughs and natural streams available and there were even a few standing puddles out on the trail between water troughs in the first half of the ride.
 We had a hard time finding a spot to ourselves for a while as we caught a few people but mostly people were catching and lingering ahead of us. Scrappy was happy to trot along or do his incredibly smooth, powerful little canter. He really is a powerful little engine and uses his hind end so naturally and well. We les, went beside, or tucked in behind Willow and at one point were literally cantering in a pack of horses and he seemed fine with it all. He only pulled at the bit a little when he wasn't allowed to escalate to race mode but I think I only gave him one firm "Knock that shit off!" about anything, all day.
 The LD had one 30 minute vet check at 16 miles, out of camp, tack off optional, criteria 60 bpm. We trotted to the 1/4 mile to Vet sign then I hand walked him in and he pulsed at 48 immediately. The hold had loads of hay and horse mash and human food, and volunteers to stand with your horse if you needed to go pee in the bushes like I did! Melissa vetted us again with As and a 40/42 CRI, and then we failed miserably at the trot out. That is, Scrappy was in snooze and eat mode and was completely not buying this let's trot for no reason thing. I drug him down and back at a walk, embarrassed, and then trotted him out and back again with the help of a guy waving a big cowboy hat around. The vet seemed sort of amused by him, since she could see by his look and other criteria he wasn't sick or exhausted, he was just well, lazy I guess. I promised I would practice trotting out religiously at home and slunk back to our grub spot. I *will* practice trotting him out every time I pull him from the field, but I also have suspicions he'll always be laid back about the trot out. It's fine with me since he obviously knows to power down and go into conservation mode at checks and camp, but we certainly need to at least do a presentable mellow jog if nothing else, haha.

When we headed out from the hold Scrappy took about a mile to be excited about going again.

Soon enough he was all business again as we headed steadily back to camp, and supposedly past it for a "trot-by" check, though when we went by there was no vet present, then out past camp on the last little 6 mile loop. Scrappy was not amused about being back at camp but not being allowed to go sleep and eat, and with the gravelly footing at the start of the loop we slowed down to a steady meander for a while. I will definitely be booting him in the hind in the future, as he took the occasional ouchy step on the worst of the gravel, but the front boots worked flawlessly once again.

The last loop was beautiful and green and forested, but you wouldn't have guessed it from this unpleasant toasty moment out on gravel just before it got pretty:
 See, it's already way prettier!

 Even had a nice view point at a break in the trees
 N and I were sweaty and filthy and happy to be almost done as we both hand walked our horses up  the last hill and out around camp to the Finish. Scrappy's pulse was 42 at the Finish and he walked quiet as a lamb back to his food pile.
Predictably he barely trotted out for the final check, this time not for Melissa, so I mentioned the crappy impulsion grades even at check in and the vet agreed that he could see Scrappy was a quiet horse who was a little tired rather than a completely exhausted horse who could barely trot. Scrappy did have 2 little ouchy spots under the saddle which I'll address by rechecking fit but also experimenting with a crupper and remembering to ride with a tighter girth. I had some issues with my saddle sliding around on his short round body and a crupper might be a very good thing, though I've honestly never trained a horse to one before. I don't doubt Scrappy would humor the human and wear a fluffy strap under his tail if he was asked, that's the sort he is!

We stayed for a delicious ride dinner and I wasn't feeling my usual impulse to pack like the wind and get home, so I stayed the night again. Most of camp left Saturday night, including J and Sedona, but Scrappy once again impressed me by sending Sedona off with a few whinnies before turning back to his mash and quietly eating and sleeping alone for the rest of the night.

I couldn't be happier with this little grey horse! He is out in the field right now, still eating like a champ. I just knew we were going to have some funny ride moments together and sure enough there were some serious laughs on our very first outing. I am so looking forward to what's ahead for us!

LOOK, Wieners!
** In other news, Desire is looking good moving around in her paddock, I am to start riding her and see how she feels in about about week. Sheza's swelling and lameness have both decreased markedly today, though both hinds are still visibly swollen. Calling my vet at least for a chat in the morning..


  1. Fun to read another blog from the same ride I just blogged haha!! My mare really would have liked to see your boy & his hangy down part. She is always standing parked in a very desirable position just in case. Glad to hear your filly is better.

  2. Well hellooo Scappy! Glad he felt safe enough to let it all hang out! What a great story of having a horse for a WEEK and taking him on a ride. Sounds like a great partner already.