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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

April 20, 2009

Considering the Horse

Geez...what a weekend. Even though my intent was to crash early last night, I couldn't sleep after putting Molly down. Thankfully, I did not have a work day today. So I've puttered along and read what I could on equine exertional rhabdomyosis or some call it rhabdomyolysis, but either way IT STINKS. I'm going to wait until May 1st and call my vet, Kelli Cobler. At that time I'm going to ask that the muscle enzymes and selenium levels be tested, and see if I can get a green light to get her back into slow work. From what I've read a mild case can be brought back into normal work in 5-6 weeks, but since we have other issues to work out anyway, I'm not going to rush the process. We will spend May just easing her into work, and focusing on rating her at the trot for short sessions. I'm really hoping that Kari can offer me a little advice on how to slow her down, and get her moving collected, and relaxed. To move down the trail like that young lady would be absolutely joyful. In June we will start some 5 mile slow distance, building to 15 by the end of the month. July there is a ride at Salamonie, both LD, Endurance, and a novice CTR. I may attempt that novice CTR with her, as it will give me a good handle on where she is at, it will force rating because if we finish to quick we are a done deal. I've ridden that ride before and the terrain is not too challenging, though the temps are hot. The goal will not be any kind of placement. All we will go there for is to walk, trot, and NOT COME IN TOO EARLY. If she can successfully handle that we will continue LSD into August, and begin adding trotting speed in September as the weather cools. Then LD in the late fall and early winter. I'm going to present my strategy to the vet when she comes out, and I may email an endurance vet and see if they will give it their feedback.

The ugly finger of blame on this points right at me. I'm not beating myself up, but I'm certainly taking responsibility. I knew she had issues with rating, and I'd been working hard at it, with some good improvement. But the problem was not fixed, or she would not have found the fifty horses moving out on the trail just too overwhelming for her. I was over confident in her fitness, and if I did one crucial thing wrong, it was that I did not ride "my own" ride.

*DING* *DING* *DING* Wake up call!

I had also added alfalfa to her diet over the past month. It was making her eat well post ride, and this may have factored into upseting her calcium phosphorus balance, or just may have been too much good stuff. She also had the week prior off, without a reduction in feed because I was trying to put weight back on her prior to this ride. She was gaining weight and looked really good, but this was for sure another change that may have helped to set up the chain of events.

The other thing I've wondered over too is her frantic pace, all that tension in her body, she not collecting but traveling in a hollow frame at the trot, and the impact of all that jarring around over a technical trail, with me not balanced worth crap on her back. So that is also a goal if I can find someone local to help me, is to get my lousey riding style fixed. That may take awhile, but if I can get even a couple of lessons a month, I can use her arena time working on what I'm taught.

Phebes is moving around okay, but I think she looks a little off on her left rear, and that muscle is still very firm. The right side is softening up. That is the plan as I know it today. ~E.G.


  1. I totally forgot about the selnium! YES! Get that checked! and get the actual value. Endurance horses need to be in the upper range of normal. Search on ridecamp at and you can find the recommended endurance horse range.

    Yep - regroup and start again. The first step is being honest with yourself so you can fix the problem (which is what sounds like you are doing....). I watch a local endurance rider here who has a new horse every 6 months because she rides, bows a tendon and then gets another horse.....very sad. (although she's getting it, because she's been talking to me about backing off an starting again with lots of LSD!).

    Good luck!

  2. Good to hear Phebes is doing better. The comment about traveling with tension is exactly why I have changed my focus with JB. We may not even do a ride this season because I want him traveling correctly.

  3. E.G - I just wanted to add that I'm really looking forward to you posting on this topic. I've never had a horse tie up, although I've seen it happen/read about it etc. I think I'm going to learn a lot by reading your blog!

    If you end up with any insights on your riding, please post them! I'm constantly working on my riding and sometimes something just clicks. For example, I read somewhere that trail riders tend to visualize riding the outside of circle when circling in the arena, while dressage/arena trained people tend to visualize riding the interior of the circle's border. When working in the arena I've started visualizing circles/corner etc. as me riding on the outside and I was AMAZED at the difference it made. It was something I was doing on the trail, but for some reason it didn't translate to the arena until I read that.

    Anyways - the point to this too long comment was please continue to post what you are learning! It's all part of the endurance experience right?

  4. Sorry about losing Molly.

    Here are a couple of links in case you haven't seen them already:

    Sounds to me like she may have already tied up before the actual ride.

    You do need to make sure she is getting adequate selenium/vit e. I give organic selenium, I think it's 6 mg per day.

    You are already onto the feed and that probably played a big role in the problem. Eliminate grains when not working and rinse your beet pulp of any excess sugar.

  5. Jacke,

    I so appreciate that you're taking responsibility for your part in Phebes difficulty, but don't beat yourself up too much, ok? You can do everything right and still have something go wrong with the horse. :)

    FWIW, I think you've made a really good decision to stick with walking and trotting only the next year -- for mostly mental reasons.

    I didn't canter Aaruba AT ALL until I'd had him under saddle for a year and completed 3 LD's and 2 50's. I have the same plan in mind for Consolation. It's all about making sure their heads are on straight before you up the adrenaline. :)