When to move up?
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 :D
Oh wow. Sorry, I'm still breaking my arab, so I have no advice, but I had to tell you. Your girl is freaking gorgeous. O_O
I think when to move up depends a lot on the horse and rider in question.
To me, I read your description and think move up, no sweat. Your mare was going down the trail nicely, was taking good care of herself, and finished the ride in excellent shape.
However, if you don't feel at least 75% comfortable with that (are we ever 100% sure? I know I am not!), then you need to figure out what is making you hesitate and work on that. It was only her first ride, you went for a resaonable middle-of-allowed-time pace (which I think was a great plan!), so maybe next ride aim to finish just under the low end of the time and see how she does. If she again passes with flying colors, then move up.
I have known some people who have never done any sort of LD ride and went right to 50s. Hell, I have one friend who did a 100 as their horse's first ride (experienced rider though, just a new horse). There is no "right" thing for everyone. Do what is right for you!
Congrats on a great first ride. The pics show a happy mare and a happy rider. Love it!
Thanks. I think she'd do okay at a 25 but we'll see how her conditioning goes for the next few weeks.
Phantomrider13-That's crazy about your friend who did a 100 miler with a rookie horse...more power to her! My poor mare would be dragging herself on one leg :wink:
I really like the first photo of you guys. You look great!
Talk to some of the others about how long the longer rides take to complete and extend your program in increments to attain those times. Hill work is excellent for stamina. Myna Cryderman, now retired as one of the best, had an area on her property where two hills converged. She made a paddock that took in both hills. She could stand at the bottom and lunge 4 of 5 horses at a time as they went up one hill, across then down and up the other.
man my horse isnt at 42 right now and she been standing in a pasture for 3 days. I tend to do 12 to 15 mile loops as training rides. I jumped into 50's too soon with my last horse, but Im a HW rider on a non ideal horse of a non ideal breed. Now I am on a more suited horse, still not an ideal breed though so have to modify the way I ride. I am doing better this year. Still learning what not to do, but I have a very long list of nots built up so things so far are ok. Although I think I can I think I can,,, gonna stick with LD's this year (25-30 miles,) By end of year I'll be moving up to 50's, Or starting another horse. I am thinking when I can get up into a 4 hour thirty with good gut sounds I'll move up.
I say GO FOR IT!! There is NO shame in pulling if YOU do not feel comfortable with how the horse is feeling. Do Not rely on the vet at the ride. I have had them say REALLY?? She's got all A's and looks good. But if *I* don't think she feels good, I pull.
I have NO competitive streak. Like to win, but no competitiveness, especially if my horse doesn't feel perfectly normal under me.
You BOTH look great!! Are you talking about moving up to 50 or 25? Most horses do 5 hour, easy terrain 25's easily if they have a decent base, even if they don't have a ton of recent miles.
I didn't train for endurance (anymore), but when I taught lessons all week and went to CW Reenactments (1986-2011, both local and national) my horses were in great shape and could handle it when we had 2 days straight of up-at-the-crack-of-dawn skirmishing, then another around noon, then a battle mid-afternoon. Fast activity, then waiting.
There are two things I would do.
(1) Conditioning that includes pounding to create bone density. NEVER on pavement, but compacted dirt works very well.
(2) Train to a plateau, then back off. Then, train to a higher planteau, etc. THIS is what long distance runners do to train for marathons.
It is best to OVER prepare for your races, then see your horse over taxed.
I only plan to do a 25 with her this year. Maybe next year we'll be brave and go for a 50, who knows could be a couple years, I won't be ready until Miss Selena is ready.
I definitely won't be afraid to pull her, I think that's why it's so important to know your horse before you compete, to get a sense of when something isn't "quite right". I want my horse to last and enjoy their job.
Thank you all again for your great advice & opinions. I'm always looking for mentors and experience wherever I go, so it's nice to have access to all of you on here. You guys rock :wink:
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