Thursday, January 18, 2007

Curse of the Fire Mountain...?

Thursday January 18 2006

I was going to ride Spice in Saturday’s 50-mile Fire Mountain ride, but she’s ever so slightly lame. A week after the last day of the Death Valley ride, where she was pulled for lameness in the left front, she came up lame in her right front leg. Puffiness in the ankle, and tender to poking. Not swelling of a tendon type, but maybe suspensory ligament strain/sprain? Could this be from the ride? Or from running around and tweaking it in her paddock?

I wrapped her leg a few days, gave her bute for a day or two, and gave her another week off. Took her out on a few rides, she seemed fine, felt really strong and wanted to go, didn’t feel off, didn’t look off when I trotted her out (though it’s not that easy to watch and diagnose as you’re running alongside a trotting horse), no puffy ankle, no tenderness.

Until yesterday. The ankle was a little puffy, and she seemed a little tender to flexing that ankle. I had Bev watch me trot her out, and when trotting her in a circle, Bev thought she was slightly off in that right front.

OK, so she’s out of the Fire Mountain. Gretchen and I want to do the 3-day Eastern Mojave Scenic in 4 weeks on Raffiq and Spice, so I’ll give her another couple of weeks off and watch the ankle.

So that leaves me and Raffiq for the Fire Mountain. (Gretchen can’t come down.) Now, Raffiq and Gretchen have attempted the Fire Mountain ride the last 3 years or so, and Raffiq does not have the best record in it. Or, maybe it’s the combination of Raffiq and Gretchen, or maybe it’s just Gretchen isn’t meant to do this ride… we’ll come to some conclusion after the ride on Saturday.

Three years ago I think Gretchen got bucked off of Raffiq in the ride. She may have been bucked off twice, although I think they did complete it. I’ll have to confirm that. Or maybe I don’t want to know.

Two years ago, she had hauled Raffiq down here, and the day before the ride he was tied to a Sky-hook on their trailer, and something spooked him, and he pulled back, and back, and back, and the Velcro connector or snap came apart or broke, flew back and popped him in the lip and he flipped over backwards (at least he was on sand). He ended up with a big fat lip (and feeling very sorry for himself), and it looked too painful to put a bridle on him and ride him the next day. So she turned around and went back home.

Last year, I was riding with some other people, so I only saw Gretchen and Raffiq at the start of the ride. My group rode pretty fast and finished pretty early, but when we got back home, Raffiq was already in his paddock. Hmm, I wondered how he’d finished so fast without ever seeing him pass us. Well. On the first loop, after stopping at a water trough, as they were heading back onto the trail, something spooked Raffiq from behind, and he bolted, took off at a dead run across the desert, dumped Gretchen, and ran off. “He kept going, but I didn’t,” said Gretchen. Gretchen ended up with a skinned face and plenty of bruises (at least it was on sand and no cactus!), and Raffiq had a leg-full of cholla stickers, when they finally caught him. Wicked cactus that is. They had to use pliers to get the stickers out. Gretchen didn’t know if Raffiq got the cholla before he bolted or after. Either way, they didn’t finish.

I’m going to start out Saturday morning with a bit on Raffiq, I’m definitely going to put my seat belt on tight, and I’m crossing my fingers!

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