Going out alone for conditioning?
I'm pretty much the only one at my barn with an interest in endurance, so far as I know. I do have barn buddies who will go out on trail rides with me, maybe once or twice a week, but I would like to do a little more than that in terms of conditioning, especially as we get more in shape and further into summer.
We do have a large arena, and I and my boy are out of shape enough that will be useful for some trot/canter conditioning for the next little while, but then what? I can only spend so much time going in circles without wanting to go nuts.
Do most of you wind up having to ride out alone to get the miles in at the speed you want? Are there other alternatives? Ideas to make it safe/safer?
Take a phone, know the trails like the back of your hand, let someone know exactly where you will be going, wear a helmet, put your name, number, emergency contact inside your helmet or pocket - blood type too. LOL prepare for the worst. Take a knife and wire cutters and flashlight, plenty of water and a snack of some sort.
Probably forgot something but since you will be by yourself make sure that you are prepared to handle anything!
Generally, I prefer to ride alone. That's because most of the boarders at my current barn are scared to canter and scared of trail rides, so they just want to go for a walk on the trails and chatter the whole time.
Right now, the trails I ride on aren't much. If something bad were to happen and I were to disappear, for the majority of the time I am within sight of the barn. If my fool of a horse bailed on me, he'd go home. I keep my cell phone on me (strapped to my boots) so if I find that I can't walk back, I can call the barn and someone can come out on the RTV to get me in a few minutes.
Now, there's a few things that I have been considering for when I switch barns. I have an iphone. I have the "find my phone" app, and my husband has the password to it. If I vanished, he could use that to track the location of my phone, which would hopefully remain with me and working! Tell people at least the general direction of where you're headed. Mark your horse with some kind of tag that has your contact information.
Something that worked well for my conditioning plan was to trailer to the nearby recreation areas and state parks that have multiple use trails. This way my mom and dad could come with me and go use the mountain biking or hiking trails while I was riding. Everyone carries a cell phone, and since they are still in the park, we are all close if anyone has a problem. This way too you have a meeting time and place, and if you don't show up on time someone can go out looking for you right away! They can easily spend an afternoon biking or hiking while I ride, so everyone gets their appropriate exercise!
If you have friends who enjoy biking and hiking, they may be eager to join you for conditioning also.
I do all my conditioning alone. No one in my barn moves out during their trail rides; it's all walking and a little trotting. I have to trot and canter. Canter? On a trail ride? That's mad! :lol:
I would rather be by myself anyway. Nobody to look after or worry about.
I have one friend who comes on gallops with me sometimes, once in a blue moon. It is fun to have someone with you if they can keep up.
Make sure your cell phone is on YOU, not your saddle. If you fall off, your horse and cell might just run away. Even if he stays by you, it's hard to stand up and fool around in your saddle bags with a broken leg/back/spleen. If your horse is hurt and thrashing, you need to be able to get that phone. Keep in in a pocket or get a holder to clip to you.
Before Hunny had her baby there was only one horse I liked to ride with for conditioning! She is a paso mare and her and Hunny match each others steps almost perfectly when gaiting.
Besides that I prefer to go alone for the sake that I can do what I want.
There are cell phone holders that you can buy that just snap to your boot or slide onto your arm. My jods have zipped pockets in them, so I keep my phone in there. Make sure you always have a good knife on you in case your horse gets stuck in something! Also make sure you have enough water and a power bar that is HIGH IN PROTEIN AND LOW IN SUGAR as this will give you the boost you need! Sugar dehydrates you, protein feuls you. Try to stay away from carbs as well, they will make you feel sluggish and more hungry then not. Protein will fill you up. My favorite power bars are Quest Bars in the Cinnamon Bun flavor! They are AMAZING they taste EXACTLY like a cinnamon bun...its kinda crazy...! And they are good for actual endurance rides as well. They have enough protein, fiber, and vitamins in them that they actually can replace a meal quite easily.
I also keep a caribeaner with me just in case a ring on my saddle breaks and I need to reattach a breast plate or bags for a quick fix til I get home and can replace the broken part.
Ummm...I also keep advil in case I get thrown and can quick take a couple to reduce any swelling I may feel coming on; also a good headache help. But make sure you can identify between a little ouch headache and a concussion so you don't do more harm then good.
That's bout all I got :)
1) Not only tell someone where you are going, let them know when you should be home again or when you will contact them. And also leave specific instructions on what to do in case you do not return on time.
2) If you want to be extra careful, do 1 above with more than one person.
3) Carry a map and compass and know how to use it. They never fail, unlike GPS and cellphones.
4) Make sure that the person with whom you leave your itinerary also knows the make, model, and plate number of your vehicles if you trailer out to ride.
Wow you guys, you make it sound like you're riding into a blizzard or something ?
I ride alone most times without a second thought. I guess it depends if you're out in the wilderness really but the most important thing is knowing that your horse is safe enough for you to take him out alone.
Be sensible and not reckless and then you shouldn't have need for any of the above.
What is a horse that is "safe enough for you to take him out alone"?
Is that a horse that NEVER spooks at anything hard enough to unseat you?
Is that a horse that NEVER puts a foot wrong and never stumbles or slips?
Never mind the horse, there are many other factors that are unpredictable enough to warrant some precaution.
Add to that the fact that some of us are responsible for others, so it isn't fair to them to be careless or cavalier about this.
Let me assure you there are plenty of dead hikers who thought just like you.
You may ride out alone without second thought now.. but you don't once something unexpected happens.
I came off Dream, who is a seasoned endurance horse and as close to bombproof as they get, on trail after a herd of deer burst out of the bushes as we were trotting along and 3 of them literally crashed into her side, knocking her clean off her feet. I was flung into the brush a few feet away.
Luckily for us both, neither of us were seriously hurt (though I had some impressive rock-rash and bruises and my tights were ruined). However, that accident could have had a very different outcome had I landed in a slightly different place or in a different way. Or even if Dream decided she was going home without me instead of waiting!
Accidents are accidents because they are unplanned. I had been riding over familiar trails and had bells on (always train in them to make both wildlife and other trail users aware of us). We had been that way probably 100s of times with no problems. But all it took was once.
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