Tevis Cup Part 2

Waiting for Jen to catch up, Marol walked Babe towards the vet zone, where four veterinary teams evaluated the horses.

“There’s an opening. Why don’t you take it? I want to talk to Rory.”

Jen nodded, smiling somewhat. Marol waited for her turn for her preferred vet.

“Hi, Rory.”

“Hey, Marol! How’s the ride going for you?”

“Good,” she replied with a wide smile. “Jen and I, how are we doing time-wise compared to everyone else?”

“You’re a half-hour behind the first group,” Rory replied.

“Oh well, it looks like I won’t go home with any trophies.”

“But you’ll get a belt buckle if you finish; everyone who completes the ride gets one.”

Rory began his examination. Approaching Babe in a calm, relaxed manner, he walked to her left and patted the side of her neck. “Hi there, how’s my favorite girl?”

Sliding his right hand upward along the coat Rory murmured calming reinforcements while giving the horse reassuring pats before starting his fifteen-point checklist.

Honey, Rory’s trail secretary, wrote the findings on the rider card. Marol stood at the front of the horse, holding the lead rope, letting Rory do his job. Sliding his right hand along Babe’s muzzle, he hooked his thumb under the horse’s lip, exposing the pink gums to the sunlight. Pressing his thumb onto the gums, Rory made them whiten from the pressure. He removed his thumb and counted the time it took for the red color to return, for the capillaries to refill with blood.

“Mucous membranes are pink, CRT is one second,” he began.

Honey wrote the findings on Marol’s rider card. Marol moved closer towards Rory.

“Look, Marol,” Rory directed as he pushed his thumb low on Babe’s neck. “Jugular refill is two seconds… Skin tenting is great,” he said, grabbing Babe’s skin between his thumb and forefinger at the point of her shoulder. “Give this girl an “A” for skin tenting, Honey.”

Rory checked Babe’s heart rate with a stethoscope, then grabbed her tail, and continued. “I check for muscle tone in the tail as I lift it and test sphincter tone when I insert my thermometer into the rectum,” he explained. “Give her an “A” for Anal Tone, Honey.”

As he moved around the horse, Rory gently palpated Babe’s butt muscles and her back and hamstrings. “Give her a “B” for Muscle Tone. Next, he palpated the horse’s withers and back for soreness from the saddle.

“Okay, it’s time for the lameness exam, Marol. I need you to trot Babe to the end of the lane and back.”

Marol shortened the lead rope, clicked at Babe, and ran with her to the end of the trotting alley. Guiding her up and back allowed Rory to see any lameness, any unevenness in the horse’s gait.

“Give her a Grade I for gait, Honey,” Rory said, seeing no signs of limping.

“Any wounds, Dr. Evans?” the secretary asked.

“I don’t see any,” Rory reported, as he circled the mare, feeling along each leg.

“What about Impulsion?”

“She has great spring to her step. Give her an “A” for Impulsion.”

“And attitude?” Honey asked, following the checklist.

“Give her another ‘A.’ She’s happy, unstressed, and curious. Okay, Marol, everything looks fine, you’re good to continue.”

“Thank you, Rory.” Marol saw there was a line of horses and riders waiting for vet checking. Rory didn’t have time to talk. She would catch up with him later.

“Ready, Marol?” Jen asked, pulling Marol from her pleasant thoughts.

“Sure, give me a sec.” Marol fussed a moment with her saddle, hopped on, and they trotted out.

Marol and Jen settled into the next stage of their Tevis journey, moving from a trot into an extended canter. The only noise came from the creaking of leather, the clacking of hooves, and an occasional snort and fart. The changing terrain dictated the spacing and pace of the riders. At first, the trail followed the road, allowing easy conversation. But, in many places, the paths were narrow, uneven, rutted pathways cut into the hillsides, weaving through Ponderosa Pine trees spaced between five and twenty feet apart. Other parts ran through marshy wetlands, or along treeless, sun-scorched south-facing slopes. There were the boulders, big rocks that fell from higher up, ranging in size from watermelons to Volkswagens. Wherever they appeared, the trail bent around them, complicating the path, and slowing the horses.