On Sunday night I took Thunder out for a short ride. We were doing ok, until about 3/4ths of the way through our ride when I noticed that he was panting pretty hard. I immediately hopped off, loosened the girth and walked the rest of the way home, keeping a close eye on his breathing. I was concerned at how long it took him to cool down (I don't have a stethoscope so have no way of tracking his pulse). As I put him up I was kicking myself. How could I have not seen that I was pushing him too hard? Afterwards I fed him his favorite treats and wrapped my arms around his neck and had a good cry. I love that darn pony so much. The last thing I want to do is hurt him. I ended up concluding I need to back off for a bit. There is a good possibility that he just isn't cut out for endurance. And if he isn't, that's ok. In the end, I just want what's best for him.
Today (Monday) my sister came out and we went riding. Since I had resolved to give Thunder some time off, I rode my 18 y/o Appendix QH, Wings. Wings is a good old boy. I have actually always thought he would be well suited for endurance, but never really pursued it. After today, however, I resolved to begin riding him again.
Seriously, that horse is a machine! He has been sitting in the pasture for at least 6 months and is out of shape, but he still did better than Duke (my 17h Hanoverian my sister was riding). Duke is being ridden (by my friend Mark) 2-3 times a week so he technically should be more fit, but even he had a hard time keeping up with Wings. He was huffing and puffing when Wings was barely breathing, despite that fact that Wings is older, slightly smaller (16.2h), lighter boned, and carrying almost twice the weight! I was seriously impressed. I don't have quite the same bond with Wings, but he shows serious potential as far as endurance riding goes and who knows? Maybe, with time, we will "get there".
Note: We stopped to check out an abandoned house and barn along the way. The barn was really neat...while the house was slightly creepy. It had a lot of gang related (Juggalos) graffiti inside. It was interesting, but definitely not somewhere I'd like to be on a dark night! ;)
(PS In the following images, I am the one on the gray horse:))