How long are your trail rides typically?
I've taken my horse on two trail rides recently. One about 6 miles and another 5 1/2 miles. He doesn't seem tired at all after these rides, he actually seems a little disappointed that we're done already. Today he had a blast trotting and cantering up hills, wasn't breathing heavy, not overly sweaty (it was warm though) and seems like he was ready to do it all again.
He is 17 years old, and for at least the year before I had him he was essentially a pasture ornament. I'm not sure how much I can work him right now and could use some advice.
I do ride him at the barn 5-6 days a week for an hour to an hour and a half in the arena and for my lessons. Some are lazy days just spending time together, and some days we're working.
Next weekend we have an opportunity to go ride again, but this trail is a little further away, so just going there for two hours is kind of a short visit. How many miles are too many at this stage?
If he wasn't breathing heavy, I wouldn't worry about miles. I certainly wouldn't use age as a factoer. My friend's horse is 25 and is usually the one wanting to go the fastest. Most horses can do a good hour without breaking a sweat. Mine can go all day except in the hottest most humid days when I don't want to be out there anyway. Just let your horse tell you when he's had enough and have lots of water on hand.
I ride two hours on trail rides. that's about all my knees can do, without a break. And your horse may need a break, too. If you take a 15 min. break, loosen the girth and let the blood flow freely up under the saddle, this will help keep him from getting sore. I try to dismount and walk a few minutes for every hour I am in the saddle, but not always.
If your horse isn't breathing hard and isn't pooped or sore the next day, then you are not overtaxing him.
It depends on what I am on trail for.
If I am out being social with friends, the rides generally last a couple hours and we may cover 5 or 6 miles.
If I am out conditioning, the rides will generally be 12-18 miles.
If I am competing, generally looking at 50+ miles.
If your horse is feeling good after your rides, you are likely not overtaxing him. Just build up the time/distance/terrain slowly and your guy will be fine regardless of his age.
I'll quit being a paranoid new horse mom and listen to my trusty steed. We're heading out this weekend again and I think he can handle 10-12 miles without issue. I may need a break for my poor knee before he does! He got new shoes tonight and is loving being able to walk without tenderness so we're good to go.
Wow, phantomhorse13, 50+ miles...I hope we can work up to that one day and compete in endurance events.
My rides will be anywhere from 2 miles to 14 or 15. Most seem to go around 8 miles at our local trail.
listen to your horse he will tell you.
A horse in distress or overly fatigued will give you clear signs.
Listen to his pulse when you stop after a short break of around 15 minutes it should be around 64 bpm,
Check his gums, are they moist and slimey ? Pinch his neck and see how fast the skin snaps back. DO it before the ride to get a base line, you are checking for dehydration.
listen for gut sounds. Again check before the ride to get a baseline. An overly fatigued horse will stop digestion and have no gut sounds.
DOes he want to eat when you stop near a grassy spot ?
If he aint dehydrated, wants to eat, has good gut sounds and pulses down he is good to go, ride him like you stole him.
I have a 20yr gelding who loves long rides, and he enjoys a good race across a field or flat spot in a trail. I was impressed with my gelding i didn't think he could handle the long rides any more either. But i listened to him, and made sure he's got everything he needs when we go, and he does fantastic.
For me it seems that 20-25 miles is about a days worth of just trail riding.
Yes I've done endurance and completed 50 miles in 5-6 hours. But most trail rides are at a slower pace, lunch stops, photo ops, Maybe a little fishing and we seem to avg around 20 miles for those kind of all day rides.
Afternoon or evening rides are more in the 5-8 miles range.
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