Tevis Rider #127 reflecting…Our first Tevis attempt was exactly what we did not want it to be, and we loved it anyway! We are humbled, tempered, profoundly sad, and inspired!
My heart hurts for the rider and her horse that died painfully in the canyon. Imagining her remembering sends me into tears, and I pray for Divine light and love to surround and uplift her. The astrology for the day said “Be bold, yes! But be careful. Tragic accidents are likely to occur.” And so they did. The cost was too high. It’s hard for me to reconcile, how we do this epic and beautiful thing without that cost again.
For our story, we went up Thursday afternoon to hydrate and ride the start, as we normally do. Tru has a good routine of walking the troughs, drinking from each one. My Tru knows how to tank up. Horses often want to smell and try his part of the trough, as if to say “Why do you like that so much?” There was a little water in a few and no water in several of the troughs Thursday night and Friday morning. He had his buckets in his pen, but didn’t drink much from them, I reflect now.
When we vetted in about noon, Dr. Jamie Kerr pinched his skin and said “Look at that. Pulse 60, Gut sounds C.” Oh crap…Tru has never vetted in, or out, for that matter, with those calls. The swallow lecture began “How many swallows to a gallon?” It’s a good one and I’m not arguing, but WTF do I do now..?
He drank 64 swallows, ate a bucket of mash in the shade, and an hour or so later, Dr. Mike Witt, with Jamie watching, re-checked him: 40 BPM, all A’s. “Perfect gut sounds; I can hear them at his heart.” Whew, but still…Dr. Mike asked what is different? I told him too much alfalfa? No usual trough walks. “That’s it!” he said. We walked the troughs in the dark Friday, and put two buckets of water in his pen.
Now the start…we gave up our Pen 1 ticket to avoid that rush of big energy, but I was warned that it still happens, and it did. We walked to the back of Pen 2 and exhaled to stop, then walked quietly to the front of Pen 2 and exhaled to stand. The surge with my big boy was all I could do to ride and guide him safely through. We were behind a horse in string of horses, who was not bothered by him behind her. Staying there was probably our only prayer.
Tru drank 18 swallows in Soda Springs creek, 20 at Lyon Ridge, at every opportunity. He ate grass along the trail. He peed very light yellow. He drank 80 swallows at Red Star. He pulsed down to 56 in a few minutes, though it took two pulsers to get a correct reading. I felt him not right. Too calm, not eating. I offered him mash, pushed an apple into his mouth and he spit it out. I offered him carrots and LMF Gold. We mostly walked to Robinson Flat, and I ran the last leg. He drank another 8-12 swallows, ate a bit more grass and peed a dark yellow, just like another horse coming through. He had sweated out that 4 gallons he drank, and more.
Our crew was waiting, ready with ice water sponges. We walked the congratulating gauntlet of crews, friends smiling and waving, to another 8 swallows and then to the pulser. “He’s so low. 56.” So good, Tru and I had agreed he would pulse down to 56 all day. But I knew he wasn’t right, and his heart rate was 62 for Dr. Mike Witt. We took some time to try some things, but as I listened to him, the quiet behind his flanks scared me, and his heart rate was increasing, mucus membranes tacky.
To the treatment vet we went and parked in the shade, under the fluid bags. He pulsed at 52, as soon as we got there, but he also buckled. “Let’s do this quickly, please.” He was dehydrated, and compacted. He could not regain that deep hydration in such a short time to ride out the way he does.
8 bags of fluids, 4 stomach evacuations, a few shots of stuff, some walks, and he was trying to eat my pizza through the muzzle by 8 PM, greeting all the horses to the barn. I was able to leave him and rest 12 hours after we walked into Robinson Flat.
I’m so grateful for…
- Spreading my mother’s ashes into the blanket of wildflowers in Granite Chief Wilderness.
- Our crew, Team TRU Joy, who knew not what they were getting into, but gave such uplifting energy, schlepped all the stuff, on time, up the mountain, took care of my family, and stayed with us until Tru turned the corner. They said “Next year!” before I did.
- My husband, Rick, for knowing where that thing is that I can’t see in front of my face.
- The volunteers who sponged Tru carefully, who checked pulses, who set up, carried, and handled so many details to put on this Tevis.
- The control vets, who were informative, firm and caring, especially Dr. Mike Witt, who came down to treatment and “congratulated me” for taking good care of my horse.
- The treatment vet team, for being thorough, for re-checking when I asked and staying open to dialogue, especially Dr. Langdon Fielding, for his kind attention to detail on loading, making sure Tru’s tummy was empty and the tube open, pointing down, so “his stomach doesn’t explode in the trailer.” Oh, yes! Thank you very much.
- The fairgrounds vet team for noticing and commenting on how much Tru responded to his “family”. For accepting me being with him, negotiating his care, till he was eating voraciously, drinking deeply and pooping consistently.
- The Cup Committee members sheparding the show, the Head Volunteers who worked round the clock.
- All the riders and crew who also work hard to make this thing called The Tevis Cup an extraordinary journey of heart, mind, body and soul.
- For the friends, like Jenny Gomes, who came and hugged me, and Joyce Sousa, who came by and gave her own brand of realistic encouragement. “If you’re gonna ride, you’re gonna have these days.” She is an endurance legend who has set a high bar in the Redwood Empire Endurance Riders club that started me.
- The thrill of flying with My True Companion over Cougar Rock!
- Tru wanting me to just be with him in the pasture the next day.
We have come a long way, but we have emotional work to do with this big hearted boy. We’re looking for the right coach, and continuing our 1,000 mile journey to this 100.
Alas, Tevis was not the only life changing adventure afoot in my life with my smart, sweet, handsome boys. I returned home to my family sick with mild cases of COVID, and me too now. Climbing my next mountain…