The Old Pueblo Endurance ride is held in March in Sonoita, Arizona. Anyone familiar with the area will tell you it is beautiful but you better like wind – as it blows! Weather at this ride ranges from blowing snow to 80+ degrees…. so you never know. But the one thing you can usually count on is the wind. Anywhere from a breeze to gale force. This year was chilly and blustery.
It’s a close ride for us so we left early the day before the ride started. We got camp set up and our horses were a bit unsettled when the radio operator volunteers were setting up their tent nearby and it kept threatening to go airborne!
My husband, Walt, had his new mare with him (he had her for about a month) and he planned on doing their first 50 mile ride together. It would be his first 50 mile full endurance ride in 2 years due to early retirement of his previous endurance mare and his own injuries and surgery. He was really excited – unfortunately so was she! The wind was creating some scary horse stuff!!
Walt’s new mare, Senora, is a bit high strung and stresses easily – right to her gut…. a big problem when extra groceries and water are needed to stay healthy at an endurance competition. Our horses are on a highline where each has their own water tub and Senora’s was staying full – not good! We did what we could to entice her to drink (yeah you know the saying…) and gave her soupy mashes. But it wasn’t enough – it took until the last day of the 3 day ride for her to be in good enough shape to do an easy LD (Limited Distance) ride but we opted to not race her at all.
So what was the problem? Senora had stomach ulcer issues that the stress of the ride environment caused to flare up and there was no way she was drinking cold water as it hurt! We gave her medicine to coat her stomach which soothed it and protected the area. Additionally we placed her on medicinal mushrooms to heal the gut.
She had passed vetting in for the ride but ultimately it is the rider’s responsibility to know their horse and determine if they are good to go. Walt was wise not to ride her and I think averted a potential disaster. Between not drinking enough and stomach discomfort he would have had a dehydrated colicky horse during the ride that would have required veterinary intervention in the way of IV fluids and medication for a horse in trouble. Instead we had a horse that got some extra tlc at the ride and was started on the road to healing. She has now been on Sucralfate and medicinal mushrooms and is looking great!
Takeaways: horses that are poor drinkers may have GI ulcers; go with your ‘gut’ instinct even if a veterinarian has passed your horse – horses are stoic and may ‘hold it together’ but be brewing an issue; always play it safe at a competition and be riding for the next ride – your horse depends on you to do so.
If you would like to know more about alternative therapies for GI ulcers please Contact Us and we would be happen to evaluate your horse’s situation and customize a plan for their gut health.