The day before the ride we brought all 6 to the venue and vetted all fine. The horses all felt great and they all felt very keen so we all thought that we'd do well and be able to make top ten in each category.
Each category would start at different times due to the amount of riders. Laura Seegers and PSV Jedi started at 6.40am in standard weight, Ashley Gower and PSV Mauser at 7am in the Young Rider, Bob Seegers on PSV Karoo, myself on PSV Liberty and the 2 Czech riders on PSV Matrix and PSV Ibis would start at 7.20am in the Heavy weight and Light weight categories together.
After the first loop non of our horses seemed to be 'bouncing' like they should, compared with when we had ridden them out previously on the farm. From having a successful season last year and training during April with Liberty I knew her pulses well, however, they were not dropping. Non of Team PSV's pulses were dropping unlike when they were at home.
Unfortunately, Ashley and Mauser were out at VG 1 due to a slight motion. That was the first bad thing to happen that day.
Throughout the day people were dropping out all over the field many of which due to metabolics (high pulse).
Laura and Jedi, and Bob and Karoo made it to 100km (loop 3) then they both dropped out on high pulse. Jedi started showing Thumps so went for immediate treatment where blood was taken, and indicated a lack of calcium.
Loop 4 and there was myself and the 2 Czech riders left. The one Czech rider was ahead as she had ridden with Bob, whilst I was with Ivana. We both found this last 20km extremely tough due to our horses being so tired and came round at about 12kph. Throughout the day due to Liberty's high pulses I had been dropping off the speed. This was not like Liberty, normally she would fly round such a flat course and would not let anyone overtake. I actually thought prior to this ride I would need a bit to keep her under control.
End of 120km ride we both were so tired. Final vetting and Liberty pulsed on 86bpm (AFTER 30 MINUTES). This is quite unheard of and I went of to treatment. Blood was taken and she also showed a low calcium. Horses across the field had been vetted out on high pulse with their bloods all showing low calcium. Horses from across South Africa with same symptoms and different management practices this was all extremely odd. The only thing in common was the water. Ivana and Ibis fortunately made it through vetting but later on when we checked her pulse it had risen whilst she stood in her stall.
We were all extremely disheartened after this ride. We'd all trained so hard prior, especially Ashley, who had also been training Liberty for me whilst I was not in the country.
The following morning Laura found out from the officials that the water had been contaminated. Many people had complained about the water supply, as their horses had not been drinking so it had been tested. After the pre-ride at this venue back in February people had complained then about water. The management of the game reserve had then added a disinfectant to the water prior to the Tri Nations Championship, but this led to the binding of the calcium molecules in the blood causing high pulse and a mass of fatigue as the system tried to cope without.
Had any of theses horses been blood tested under FEI regulations non would of passed as it would of shown the disinfectant in their systems. We are all extremely pissed off about it but are at least thankful that we know the cause and it is nothing from our own management. We now also wonder whether it was possible in human drinking water also as we have also been feeling fatigued. 2 days later and I'm still feeling stiff and tired, which is very strange considering how fit I am, so am I also suffering?
Now that all horses are home, they've all had a calcium booster and back to drinking their own water. All looking much better and more acting like themselves now they are home.
I personally think it just shows how tough these Perseverance horses are to be able to compete between 100km to 120km with a lack of calcium.