Even at 0730, when I climbed aboard and headed into the woods, it was hot. The woods were a bit stifling with the humidity and lack of air flow. I planned to do the same loop we did at the Equathon for 15 miles because a) I know it super well and b) it has a lot of difficult climbs. Gem was in a good mood and started off well.
The one thing I have been disappointed with in our move to SC is the lack of wild life. While WI may have been a frozen tundra there were a ton of song birds, bald eagles, a migration of swans twice a year as well as deer, coyote, fox, raccoons etc... I think the most I've seen here is a squirrel and some snakes.
As we were cruising along I saw this beauty and grabbed my phone to take a picture:
Dusty had shown up by then to hike with Wyatt and the dogs and I was just sending him a text with my find when I got this message from him:
"Just flushed 10 wild hogs of various sizes including piglets. Very cute. They took off. Be careful"
Damnit. Now my stupid turtle didn't seem so cool. I hoped I'd see the hogs before I was finished since he was on the same trail as me, but I never did. I know they can be really aggressive so maybe it was better that I didn't.
Gem did really well keeping a solid citizen pace up for the first 5 miles. She tackled the hills without pause and was a very good mare. At mile 5 she started to slow and I could hear her breathing harder then normal. I got off and walked her a bit.
We were both dripping with sweat and it was getting hotter. I knew there was some grass up ahead so I let her stop and shove her face full. At least she would get some water and electrolytes from the grass. She had ignored every creek we came across which isn't unusual for her. I got back on her after the next steep climb and asked her to move out but kept her to around 4-5 mph. I didn't want to push her but knew it would only be getting hotter so dragging the ride out wasn't smart either.
|Once we were out of the woods, she actually cooled down and dried off a good bit. The sun was blazing hot, but there was a slight breeze and the humidity was down once we were out of the trees.|
By mile 7 I was growing concerned. She had dropped to a 1.7 mph walk which is ridiculously slow even for her. The humidity in the woods was killer and I had just about emptied my 2L Camelbak. I hopped off and gave her another break.
We kept moving and I allowed her to choose her own pace up the hills, but asked for a decent trot on the flat and downhill sections. She did okay and kept up an average 4 mph pace which I was perfectly fine with. Still her breathing was harder than I liked.
When I came across the 3 mile marker for the red loop we were 9 miles into the ride and had about 5 left if we kept going forward. At our current pace it would have been another 1 1/2 hours to finish and it was getting hotter and hotter out. I made the choice to turn around and do the 3 miles back to the trail head. It meant finishing 13 miles instead of 15 but I didn't really care. I just hoped I hadn't pushed her too hard.
She moved fine the next 2 miles keeping the 4 mph pace up. At the 1 mile marker she quit. She stopped and looked back at me asking me to get off. I obliged and hand walked her in the last mile watching her closely. She was moving slow and breathing slightly hard but was sound and ok.
Once we reached the trail head I threw her tack off as quickly as possible and cold hosed her down for forever. Her heart rate lowered quickly and once she was cool she attacked the grass. I hadn't brought a mash for her because the barn was locked before I got there Saturday night and wasn't opened yet Sunday morning. There has been some thievery at the barn so the BO has been locking up the feed room to avoid losing more bags of feed.
I loaded her up and got her back to the barn and made her a wet mash. She gobbled it down and then drank probably 5 gallons from the tank in her pasture before heading off to her herd. She looked fine but very tired.