We’re pleased to be bringing you the first entries of our International Equestrian Blogging Contest. Remember, you can still enter as long as all three of your blogs are submitted by September 30. You can find full rules here.
Highest of Highs and Lowest of Lows, by Ashley Tomaszewski
October in Canada. You never know what you’re going to get. That was pretty much the theme for the weekend. The weather forecast called for rain the entire time. Rain has never stopped me from riding before but when it’s cold and you’re riding all day, it is not the most fun thing in the world. My plan was to do 18 mile championship ride n tie with my younger brother on Saturday and the 50 mile endurance ride on the Sunday. In order to run an event, there needs to be three teams entered. Unfortunately only two teams entered the 18 mile race so we dropped down to 12 mile run. Five teams were entered in this thankfully, so it ran. [Note: if you haven’t tried ride n tie yet, you really must! It’s a blast and anyone can do it. It was very cool to see so many families participating in both the 12 mile and 6 mile races!]
Although was a rather wet day and track was wet sand, we were off to a good start. We came into the halfway vet check and Splash’s heart rate was pretty much down. Heading out into the last half of the race, one team had passed us but I caught up to them at the end and galloped across the finish line. My runner had made it in before me, which he has done before at this venue. He was attempting the New York marathon the following month and I’m thinking that is going to seem easier than the track he just ran!
We were very fortunate to have our mom and my boyfriend come cheer us on/pit crew for us. Thanks to the days getting shorter, awards ran in the dark. One thing I love about the rides the Dufferin Forest are the little extras like prizes. Yes, finishing a tough course is a win in itself but sometimes it’s fun to take home a little something extra! My brother loved the medal and horse head statue that we received.
With it being rainy and cold, I went to bed early to rest up for the 50 mile race the next day. About 2 hours after I crawled into bed, I was woken up by the sound of my horse lying down and getting up repeatedly. Even under the minimal light of my head lamp, I could see that she was very tucked up and her flank was twitching. I immediately thought colic but I could hear gut sounds in all four quadrants of the GI tract without my stethoscope.
Luckily there were still some people awake and we managed to find a vet that was as well (thank you Stan for getting out of your nice warm trailer to help us!) After all other vitals checked out (nice, low heart rate, not dehydrated), peeing and pooping regularly, the twitching stopped and she was no longer tucked up, and a call to the treatment vet didn’t raise immediate concerns, it was concluded it was a spasmodic colic. Treatment was to walk her around to get the gas moving and let her eat. Her appetite was good as she kept trying to drag me to grass! It didn’t take much walking until she let out some good farts and she seemed to be back to normal. Needless to say, I didn’t quite get the sleep I was hoping for as I was constantly listening to her outside my tent.
A few hours later in the early morning, even though we had an uneventful rest of the night, I decided it would be best to drop down from the 50 mile race to the 25 mile ride, plus they were calling for showers/thunderstorms and those aren’t the most fun to be stuck out in the bush in.
The day started off great with no issues to report and the sun even came out for a bit. At my last vet check, I had a difficult time getting her heart rate down to parameter, which has never been an issue before. We did manage to make it down in time to get a completion and no comments from the vet were made to indicate that anything was wrong. About 10 minutes later as I was walking back to the trailer to put her away, she tried to roll while on the end of my lead (something she has never done before). As soon as I got her up, I noticed her tucked up again and the twitching had resumed. Heading back over to the veterinarians, Splash was treated with some Banamine to help with the pain and was walked around some more until she passed gas and returned to normal.
This was quite puzzling as she has never displayed any symptoms of colic before. Brainstorming with the vets, it was concluded that these episodes were most likely tied to the grass. I had let her eat quite a bit of it both days as it provided both fibre and moisture to my horse and she was choosing to eat it over her hay. However, due to the summer we’ve had in Ontario, the grass hasn’t realized that it is fall and is acting like spring grass (lush, full of sugar/fructan) which was the most likely cause of her upset stomach. So PSA to everyone out there who has their horses on grass. Treat it like you would in the spring and only allow minimal grazing at a time until their systems are used to it!
Although stressful, it did remind me why I love this sport. My horse gets checked over numerous times by numerous vets and it teaches you a lot about horsemanship. Because I spend so much time with my horse at a ride, I am able to pick up on little subtleties quickly, preventing small, treatable things from turning into disasters. Even if you had no idea what colic symptoms were, you would know that something just isn’t quite right, and the resources are there to help you out.