17 Mile Relay Race
I agreed to do a relay race with a couple of friends. It's to raise awareness on sharing the trails with all sorts of people... One person bikes 5 miles, One person runs 5 miles and I'm going to ride 7 miles. It's called a Ride, Roll and Run relay race. I have never done this sort of thing before. I'd like to do well but I don't want to push my horse beyond what he's physically capable of and I would like to keep him comfortable during the ride. I ride about 4-5 times a week, mostly trail riding but fairly leisurely. Last year the quickest horse did the ridden section of the relay in 40 minutes. I don't think we'll be able to do this but do you think I could trot and canter him a majority of the time? He is currently barefoot and I'm hoping to buy some hoof boots (renegades) before the race. I know I'm going to need them because although he's always barefoot he definitely gets sensitive over gravel, and loose rocks which will slow us down immensely during the race unless I get him some hoof protection because I would never expect him to do more than a walk over that terrain barefoot. Also, should I ride him English or Western? I usually ride him Western but my English saddle is lighter...does it matter? Both saddles fit well. Is there some conditioning that I can do to get him in better shape prior to the race? It's the last weekend in April. He's a 17 year old QH in very good health... Any information would be great! Thank you!
Sounds fun! Cannot wait to see what others have to say.
Here's a picture of him from today with my 6' 4" 210 lb husband riding him (very inexperienced rider..no need to critique.lol).. just so you can see what he has for muscle tone and conformation..
you already are riding him enough time wise, pick up the pace get that horse in gear ! 7 miles is short. Get out there and get him and hold him in a lope. Learn to check pulse rates. See how he does. See how long it takes him to pulse down to 60, if he is at 60 five minutes after stopping you aint riding fast enough, aim for a 5-15 minute pulse down. Once youve done that awhile you'll get a feel for what he can handle. Where is the ride ? sounds interesting.
We were taught lot of long trotting. A lady who excelled in endurance conditioned her arabs with long trotting and hillwork. She rarely cantered her horses as it requires more effort to cover the same distance. You'll want to use your english if you'll be doing a lot of posting.
Research is finding that a long trot, over time/miles, puts a lot of unnatural strain on the shoulders and back of the horse and actually changes the muscle development in a way that is potentially detrimental longterm. I don't have the links to the studies in front of me, but I will look for them when I get home. I know I can feel a difference in how my mare moves between a normal and a long trot, so I can see why it would develop different muscles.
A regular trot makes the best use of the suspension mechanism of a horse's limbs, but a balanced canter (and that is the key, balanced) seems to work best in terms of covering the miles the fastest. Seems the crazy FEI people who canter 100 milers (or the scary Europeans who canter on pavement during rides :shock:) were onto something after all.
I did a 3-horse experiment (with the 3 in my backyard) and found their heart rates were equal or even less at the canter than at the long trot. I was really surprised, but it made me focus on getting my mare to have a nice, balanced canter (trot is def her gait of choice).
To the OP, I think just start picking up the pace on your rides and see how your guy does. I think he's much fitter than you give him credit for!
Great information from all of you! Exactly what I was looking for!
Joe4d, the ride is in Douglas, MA. It's in it's second year here but I've heard of it being done in other states for quite some time. I'm very excited to give it a try and I love the concept of raising awareness of sharing the trails-I live in a suburban area and there is very little respectfulness towards horses on the State Park Trails that are overrun with Mountain Bikers (I think it's mostly due to the fact that they just don't know how to move around a horse and such.)
I'm loving the information on the best gaits/pace to go at. So I'm thinking that I'll see how he goes but start trying for a lot of regular trotting and small amounts of cantering? I'm hoping to order some Renegades within the next couple of weeks but my pace will be limited until they come in. All of the trails here are rocky and hard on his feet (which is the main reason our rides are so leisurely). I was hoping that his soles would toughen up in time but it's been a year barefoot and they're only slightly better. Until the boots come in, I'll work him pretty hard going around the fields at the farm. Doing a lot of hill work at the trot?
And I guess I'll ride him english..and I'll be doing a whole lot of posting. I think I'm going to have to get my butt into shape for this too! :)
I'm so excited! Thanks again for all of the information! If you've got anymore suggestions throw 'em at me!
I know things are relative, but for only 7 miles ? I could do that now at a solid canter on my TWH Bo, or at a flat runwalk on Miss Emma. Long as temp was cool. Thats where a HRM is a must or even the ability to take pulse if you can use a stethescope, Emma is inefficient at the canter, HR spikes stays up, Bo does well at a canter/walk cycle. He is more a racking horse. so at a mid gait his pulse is higher. I imagine other horses are gonna be different. For that horse who already has trail miles ? Id start doing some cantering.
This sounds like a lot of fun
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