Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Death Valley Encounter, Day 2: Slate Range Ridgeline

It was definitely Hoss's turn for bad luck.

We saddled up and Hoss was doing very nicely, trotting out at a good (for him) pace. We trotted most of the first 8 miles or so, which were relatively flat, going over substantially the same trail Demon and I had come back on after crossing the highway on Day 1. Once we got to the highway, we stopped for a drink and headed up to the Slate Range Ridgeline trail.

This was where I had briefly gone wrong with Demon the previous day. It's a lovely trail. The Duck was telling us the previous night it was originally built by motorcyclists, who now cannot use it (I suspect a subsequent wilderness designation). While working on permits, several BLM persons had to be taken out to see this trail. The biologist said it was created by burros, so would be fine for horses. The Duck asked if it was common for burros to stack rocks, and the biologist assured him yes, they do indeed do that. I suspect she was pulling his leg a bit. Biologists aren't known for being good at humor.

Totally no humans involved, burro rock stacking.
The ridgeline trail is pretty slow going, so we took our time and enjoyed the view along the trail. I can't hike so Hoss had to pack me the whole way. Again, I was a little nervous about falling off the trail, but Hoss being Hoss, he never put a foot wrong, and took any slipping in stride. I may have been nervous, but he carried on in his usual phlegmatic manner.

Looking down into the Panamint Valley
Once off the ridgeline, we were back on jeep tracks, but it was still pretty up and down. So it was mostly slow going.

When we got to the next water stop, Hoss was breathing pretty hard. Harder than I would expect for having walked as much as we had.

One last look at Panamint Valley before going off the trail
The rest of the trail back to camp, through a wash and down a canyon, was mostly downhill and sandy so I kept him mostly to a walk, though he did do a bit a pacing. At the next water, he was really breathing hard, and his heart rate felt fast. We were a few miles from camp. At this point I was thinking I was going to pull him.

Back at camp, Cheri Briscoe checked his pulse. He was at 72. His pulse hung at 72 for 5 minutes. At that point I said, nope, we quit. I took him back to the trailer and untacked him before bringing him back to the vet. The vet cleared him to continue, but we called it a day.

It was just as well we did.

After giving both horses lunches and hay to munch on, and verifying they were eating as normal, I ate my lunch and laid down for a nap. About 2 hours after we'd come in, someone banged on the camper door. I rolled out of bed and opened the door to a slightly alarming although not entirely unusual sight.

Hoss was laid out on his side, his head held up slightly by his lead rope tied to the trailer.

This is not super unusual for Hoss. He is well known for using his lead rope as a pillow and will lay out on his side to sleep for much longer than most horses are inclined to do. It is unusual for him to groan while doing it, and to lay like that so soon after a ride.

I untied him from the trailer and got him to his feet. He seemed relatively normal, yawning more like he had been awakened from an excellent nap than anything. Still, better to take him to the vet for nothing than have something get worse later.

Cheri and I were speculating Hoss had indeed been napping when I noted the vet had been listening to a particular section of his gut for a very long time. Turned out he was extra quiet right there. I said if his heart rate was in the 50s, it was a good bet he was colicking. She checked his heart rate and actually counted. 56. So Hoss got a dose of  Banamine.

I took him back to the trailer and gave him a sloppy bran mash. He polished that off and slept with his head propped against the side of the trailer for several hours. I got up every 2 hours or so to check on him and dole out small amounts of hay. It wasn't until sometime between 2am and 4am he finally pooped. Until then, I barely slept, every sound causing my heart rate to spike. I hadn't even felt him go down the first time, so I was on hyper alert for any motion or sound. After he finally did poop, I gave Demon his regular breakfast and Hoss a little bit more hay, then slept for a couple of hours. Once he'd started pooping, Hoss did not see fit to stop again, and was declared cured about noon the next day.

My strong suspicion is a combination of the heat and not getting clipped and not being as fit as he should be got to him. Usually I would have "hammered" him in the weeks right before the ride, but I had family problems going on which I had to take care of and just couldn't get it done.

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