My last blog left off with us arriving at our hosts’ home in Suffolk. We spent three very full and busy days at Matt and Dianna’s lovely home that was a little slice of country on the edge of a city. It was hoof trimming time, so we strained our already exhausted backs in between the phone calls, trips to Staples, computer time, printing press kits and fliers, coordinating our final hosts, planning logistics for the last day’s festivities, getting permits signed, purchasing gifts, etc, etc, etc. Sometimes we are jealous of the horses for getting to rest! But we knew we were so close- if we could just endure, eventually life would normalize and we would have time to rest and recuperate.
We went out Sunday morning to feed the horses and Chance was dead lame. Here we were, less than 50 miles from the ocean, and he couldn’t walk. Upon closer inspection, his front left leg was badly swollen from hoof to knee and he was able to put almost no weight on it. We immediately got to work using heat and cold, massage, anti-inflammatories, epsom salt soaks, and wrapping his leg- everything we could think of to get it to heal as fast as possible. Having made a commitment to be to the beach on Dec. 10th, this was a bit of a blow. But I knew, I just knew in my gut that if nothing else, Chance would be able to walk onto the beach with us.
One reason we rarely set pre-determined dates on the entire journey was because of unknowns like this. Only once did we ever use a trailer to transport an injured horse forward- and that was for just a single day in Colorado when Satchmo pulled his leg muscle and we had imminent snow in the Rockies we had to race. So we rode the rest and met up with Satchmo that evening. But we found ourselves in need of that again when Tuesday morning rolled around and Chance was in no condition to walk our planned 18 miles. Normally, we would have waited for him to get better, but we had a date!
We called upon Mark Shackleford, president of the SEAT organization (South East Association of Trailriders) and the members of the club to assist us. We finally got to meet Mark, as he had been in touch with us for several months after he learned of our ride and plans to finish in his area. His advice and assistance had been invaluable for helping us plan, but the SEAT organization really shone during our last week. The help they gave us was way above and beyond the ‘call of duty’ and their assistance was priceless in the last week. It was these members that volunteered their time, gas, and horse trailers to help us get Chance from location to location until he was able to walk. Had it not been for them, we would not have made our Dec. 10th plans. (And there were too many people flying and driving from long distances for us to not be there!)
The other setback was mine, and admittedly, a bit embarrassing. But what the heck, I’ve shared honestly and openly our experience on this journey, so why stop now?!
Have you ever heard of “monkey butt”? If you look at a picture of a baboon with a swollen red hind end, you can imagine that the term is fitting for the problem. It seems that the extreme humidity of the coastal area wreaked havoc on my hiney. I have never experienced such intense pain and severe itch caused by this swollen red and raw condition. It literally took my breath away. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t use the bathroom. I sure as heck couldn’t sit in a saddle. It was pure miserable torture. I was using powder, but my nurse mom, who called me when I was in a fit of pain and short of breath, suggested that due to the humidity and warmth of the body region, it might be fungal. So I got out my horse supplies and started dousing myself with an iodine solution. Yup it stung like you wouldn’t believe. But it seemed to make an improvement.
Meanwhile, we noticed a similar problem with our horses. In all these months using Renegade and EasyCare hoof boots instead of shoes, we have not once had a problem with rubbing on their heels. But recently we had noticed this problem cropping up and it seemed that another heel was found raw every day. Well my older brother, who is not exactly a ‘horsey’ person, came up with a brilliant idea. He suggested applying the same powder I was using to the heels of the horses before putting their boots on so it would absorb the extra moisture. It worked like a charm and saved us alot of grief! Between me and the horses, I think we emptied the shelves at a local grocer of butt powder! But as my bottom began healing, it actually scabbed! It was only pure stubborn determination that got me on my horse Tuesday morning at the start of our last riding week!