July 7, 2014

Weekend Until Biltmore: 1 (EEK!)

Biltmore is coming on fast!! This past weekend was my last chance with Gemmie. I debated giving her it off, but when we were out with S and Ria last I felt her take a few funny steps around mile 8 and wanted to see if it was just a stone that got her or if she was off.

Sunday was going to be hot and sunny, but the woods are always nice and cool, so I knew we would be fine. I left the house later than normal, it took 2 hours to get to the trailhead (can't wait to move the horses!) and the parking lot was full, but I was determined to get 9-10 miles in for one last ride before Biltmore.

You can always find shade in the woods
Summer is in full swing

Gem was not in the mood Sunday morning at all. She was slow and pokey from the start and absolutely refused to go over the entrance bridge. She hasn't been like that in ages. She also decided to shuffle her feet instead of actually trot and spook at everything causing her to stumble over every single root and rock possible. I knew I was in for a looooong ride.

By mile 4 I had had enough. I was a little worried that she was hurting somewhere and maybe those off steps the weekend before were not so minor after all. She had the entire week off, so if she was still lame from something it wasn't a good sign. The trail opened up into a double wide track, so I jumped off and decided to hand jog her a bit to see how she was moving. This is what I got:

She refused to move. At all. She threw her head up in the air in a major tantrum. I lost it. She knows how to jog with me. We do it all the time!! Unacceptable behavior. How could I tell if she was hurting if she wouldn't even move?

I clucked, I asked nicely, I tried to circle. She was planted in one spot. Finally I just smacked her butt with the end of the reins although it really was just a tap. That ticked her off enough to make her circle around me. But I still couldn't get the mule to trot out with me.

I looked at her feet and legs and there was no swelling or heat or any notice of pain with I poked and prodded. So I jumped back on and kicked her butt up into an actual trot and made her move down the trail. We did that entire mile at 9 minutes 30 seconds which is fast for us. I even made her canter. Which I never do out alone.

I eventually let her walk at the next mile and from that moment on when I asked her to trot she did. In front of my leg and nicely. She stopped stumbling. She stopped tripping. It was a much nicer 4 miles than the previous.

Afterward I looked her over really well and she was fine. Sweaty and grumpy, but fine. I'm not sure what her problem was. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the fact that I got her out at nap time. Maybe she missed her friend. Whatever it was, by the time I asked her to get in the trailer, she marched on without batting an eye or hesitating. She knew I was pissed!

When we got back to the barn I gave her a treat of alfalfa cubes, grain and her minerals/vitamins. She scarfed it down. She is looking a bit thin to me. Especially since I haven't been riding all that much. I think it is because the grass is so burnt out right now and they aren't really giving her much hay. Or at least not as much as I would like.

I have made her a massage appointment for Thursday evening to help get the kinks out before the race. I hope everything checks out fine and it makes her feel better. 


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