Heart of the Hills - 25 miles

Can you think of a better way to spend your 11th birthday than deep in the Texas Hill Country on a good mare who is begging to run? This photo was taken by John Adame just a couple of miles from camp, early in the morning of the AERC Heart of the Hills Endurance Ride.

I've always loved riding through the other-worldly feel of a foggy morning. If you use the little (<<) button above the photo to go back one (#49), you'll see me on 'The Princess' - still winding down from his start-of-the-ride tantrum. I'm going to write a really really long post about riding stallions one of these days and I'm sure I'll make some people mad - but enough of that for now.

We had a fantastic ride and I'll (hopefully) have some on-trail photos to share in a couple of days. I was especially pleased with my son, not only for taking good care of his mare through the toughest ride he's done to date, but also for doing it in his fastest time yet. I don't have the official times, but I believe we completed in about 4 hours.

One of my best friends didn't have such a good day. Her mare 'tied-up' at 12.5 miles. ( Equine Exertional Rhabdomyolysis ). There is a lot of study and understanding about this, but we still see occasional, inexplicable, cases such as this of well-conditioned horses on appropriate feeding and exercise programs tie-up at far below their usual workload.

We rode together that first loop and her mare looked really good the entire time, she passed the vet check but started locking up within minutes of getting back to the trailer. We caught the signs in time and got her back to the vet and started treatment. She's doing well and will be back on the trail after a recovery period.

With the relief of hearing that she made it home and was tucked cosy in her stall - my mind starting working on how to use this incident in my writing. I think it would be easy enough, if a villain had access to a hero's horse, to set it up for this sort of issue. You wouldn't even need a villain, just an inexperienced stable boy to keep the horse stalled and grain-fed for a few days and if the hero charged out for the rescue early on a cold morning - he likely wouldn't get far.

This could happen to anyone who grabs an unknown horse out of a stall and starts off down the road.

A worthy hero would know to warm his horse up slowly, or to tie a rug over it's rump - but he also probably left instructions for the horse to be exercised daily.

Typically a horse will slow down, slightly, from their regular pace, but often won't show any real signs of distress until you stop for some reason. Many times, the first noticeable indication of tying-up is coffee colored urine. The dark color comes from blood in the urine. You don't want to try to walk them once this starts and as it progresses they aren't able to move. The large muscles that run down the horses back and over his rump will start to tighten up and harden. They'll be as hard as marble to the touch and sometimes will even cramp so tight that they'll raise up in a long lump down the horse's back. The article linked above seems fairly accurate so I won't repeat the lists and information here, but I'll be happy to answer any questions, if someone wants to use this as a bit of tragedy or conflict and needs specifics for their hero's situation.


Leah Braemel said...

Ooh, plot bunnies abounds from that ..but boy does it sound painful for the poor horse! I hope she's ok.

Your pictures are beautiful - the mist really adds that extra quality of mystery to them.

I can't wait to be able to pat Cimmi! He's such a lovely horse.

Becky Burkheart said...

hehehehe, Thanks, but I have to tell you that 'Cimmi' is LA CIMMERII, 1994 black mare. :)

but that reminds me that my riding buddy and I had a somewhat odd conversation with my son regarding his riding a mare. It's hard to tell, sometimes, who is really in charge, they fuss but both really adore each other. It frustrates me for him to continually go about "Cimmi wants..." or "Cimmi doesn't like..." when, of course, the rider is supposed to be calling the shots. But Cimmi, for all her wonderful qualities, does tend to be 'mare-ish' and I suppose if he can get along so well with her, he's going to make some lucky girl a wonderfully understanding and doting husband.

I need to write a hero who rides a mare. I can see her giving him the cold shoulder or the silent treatment just when he was trying to impress a lady.