What goes into endurance? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 11-09-2012, 03:42 AM Thread Starter
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What goes into endurance?

So today something very interesting was brought to my attention. My horse has crazy endurance for his age and such. I want to do something with him, have a goal to work towards. I thought maybe endurance could be an option that we haven't looked at.

I rode him on the beach for 6 hours a little while ago. This was just pulling him out of the pasture and riding. He was not in working shape. He literally spent the entire 6 hours trotting, cantering and galloping. We would take walk breaks but he just wanted to go and go and go. My friends 6 year old Gypsy Vanner was done while my boy was begging to keep going.

He can really cover ground when we are out on the trail.

So I am really just curious, what goes into training for endurance? What do you guys do? What can I work towards? Can I use a normal english saddle or do I need a special endurance saddle?

As I said I want to do something with him. He is a lovely jumper but unfortunately gets too hot and uncontrollable on the jumper course so I can't do that with him. Same goes for cross country. He hates dressage and I hate western so those are out as well. He wants to work and wants to go, I just need to have something to work towards.

It is always easier with a goal, I think.

So yeah any opinions would be great. How do you like endurance? Is it fun? Worth trying? Thanks!
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post #2 of 9 Old 11-09-2012, 04:37 PM
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Did you ever get a wild hair and just jump off the couch, after not running for awhile, and then run 6 miles? It feels great ... and then the next morning comes. The most important part of endurance isn't your finishing time (but that really matters if you want to be competitive). The MOST important aspect is your horse RECOVERING at vet checks, which means getting his pulse into an acceptable range, eating and drinking, showing no signs of lameness. The pulsing down can be the tricky part. The more your horse is 'in shape' the better they will pulse down. Some breeds, and some horses in those breeds, pulse down better than others with less conditioning than others, but just like people, the more you run or bike, the better you will get, and the better your heart will recover. However, you probably won't want to run the six miles the next day if you are sore, and horses are similar. They need to start slow and build up endurance. It takes a few months of going long, slow distances, working in some trotting up hills and different terrain. If you are fortunate and can get a horse pulse rate watch from POLAR, you can find your horses resting heart rate, average working heart rate, and then you can chart your horse's progress that way. If you are new to the sport and low on funds, the easiest is to buy a nice little stop watch and a stethoscope. When you stop for a quick break, take your horse's pulse (it will be higher if he's eating or drinking, so just have him stand still while you do it), and then take it again a few minutes later - the faster it lowers to his resting heart rate, the better in shape he is getting (you can take his resting heart rate in the morning or before the ride if you don't know it). You want to do a ride roughly as long as an average endurance loop, roughly 14-18 miles give or take where you are and the terrain - plan on each trail ride being 3-4 or more hours, and 2-5 days a week (5 is the high side, 2 is the low side). Training is a GREAT way to learn all about your horse, too, and his physical needs and limitations. Really pay attention to the signals he gives you on the rides about how he's feeling, and be prepared to listen. All the miles mean you need to be more attentive to his feet and H2O intake. BUT you will STILL need to be in control. I cannot stress enough that horses can get really HOT on an endurance ride since there will be horses of all abilities there and some will take off like their butt's on fire! This is why it is so, so, SO important to know your horse, do the training and know how to 'rate' him, and keep him at that rate during the ride. You can get swept up with people who have faster horses in better shape with more experience, and they will be trotting away from the vet check while you get pulled if you ask too much. But that is also what makes it fun - you and your horse, having a plan, being responsible and camping out with a bunch of awesome horse people is the BEST!!!!
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post #3 of 9 Old 11-18-2012, 11:13 PM
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I heard that long slow work is the best way to condition your horse. I'm just starting out too, so is that true?
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post #4 of 9 Old 11-19-2012, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Faustinblack View Post
I heard that long slow work is the best way to condition your horse. I'm just starting out too, so is that true?
Yes, that is true. Especially if your horse has been 'sitting on the couch' so to speak. You have to start slow and take long walks - plan on 3 hours or more each ride. Then, when you have done that for 2 months or so, you can move up to trotting up hills and certain stretches. Then keep extending the amount of trotting based on your horses fitness. Eventually, you want to be moving at 6-8 MPH for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Once you are doing that, you will be ready to do competitive endurance.
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post #5 of 9 Old 11-28-2012, 12:14 PM
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Could you describe what an endurance ride is like. I just bought my first horse, and I've never done shows because they don't interest me. However, competitive trails and endurance riding interest me A LOT. I read online that many people condition their horse for 2 years before entering an endurance ride. Is that true because is seems excessive?

I have a lot of "getting to know each other" to do still with this horse, but she's very energetic and her stamina is amazing. She's a 9 year old quarter horse. I'm so interested in this, and I feel like it is a community I would fit well in. I love the outdoors, camping, and horses of course!

Aside from the training, once you've gotten your horse up to where they need to be, what is the actual ride like? I know endurance is a race (with healthy as priority) so what's the pace like? Do you camp where ever you decide to stop, or is it a different race each day?

I currently have an australian saddle and a bitless bridle and a regular snaffle bit and bridle. What kind of other gear do you need? How do you transport water for your horse? I'm really interested, so thank you for all the answers!
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post #6 of 9 Old 11-28-2012, 05:46 PM
Green Broke
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get this book, seriously It is a great book, easy to read , easy to understand, doenst get super technical. Great book that just came out. They have a kindle version. I wish I had this when I started. Explains things so well.
Endurance 101 | a gentle guide to the sport of long-distance riding
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post #7 of 9 Old 11-28-2012, 05:48 PM
Green Broke
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in a nutshell, if the saddle fits doesnt sore your horse and you can control your horse, you have good enough tack. Learn the sport a bit before buying stuff.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-02-2012, 02:08 PM
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Here is a great site to help you find whatever you want to know, http://www.aerc.org/

Some girls never out grow the "I love horses" phase.....
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-10-2012, 12:04 AM
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Look into NATRC in your area also. It's a good stepping stone to endurance. The rides are 20-25 miles . You can do one day or two. You will also have to pass vet checks. The ride is timed, but coming in 1st does not mean you won. The scores are based on how well you ride, how well your horse goes and time.

I've been to a couple and have had a great time. But it did make me realize that I did not want to do endurance. The 20-25 was enough for me.
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