So this is kind of a hard question to word or explain, but when do you know when your horse is ready to move up to a longer distance ride? I have an Arab mare that I have just started conditioning this year and I'm questioning my ability to know how fit she truly is.
This past weekend we did a 15 mile conditioning ride at GMHA in Woodstock, Vermont which was her first ride. I felt that she was well-prepared and we ended up doing pretty well. We had between 2 hours and 15 minutes and 2 hours and 55 minutes to finish the ride and we came in at about 2 hours and 40 minutes. I tried to treat it as another conditioning ride instead of getting competitive and I was very proud of how well she did, I never had to push her, in fact she acted like she knew exactly what to do. She took very good care of herself throughout the ride; eating, drinking, and relaxing. She pulsed down to 48 at the 10 mile hold and then to 42 at the finish. In the end we ended up placing 2nd out of 29 competitive riders which was a great way to end the day. Knowing that we got a final score of 97/100 was a great feeling.
Anyways, back to my question. When do know when its time to step it up? I know it all depends on the individual horse, age, fitness, etc, but what are some things you look for before increasing mileage or speed? I personally would like to do another 15 mile conditioning ride with her in June and then maybe aim for a 25 this summer or fall. I'm in no rush by any means, in fact I tend to be a bit hesitant to push my horses, but I want to make sure I'm not boring her or holding her back if she's ready to take the next step.
And here's some pictures of us at our ride last weekend. We had a blast