Great training ride
I met up with some new friends for a training/conditioning ride yesterday! A 'real' endurance rider and another wannabe like me! Us two newbies are planning on going to South Fork for the LD in September, which should be a blast. We went out to Land Between the Lakes yesterday. As some might recall, I just got to TN from TX, and the terrain here is a whole different animal than what my boy and I are used to. Mud, deep sand and heat are fine, but these hills and forests (roots and trees and spiders!) are something new.
Mr. Jayne ate, drank at nearly every water crossing, took his electrolytes and didn't freak out at me tossing sponge-on-a-rope off him like I thought he would. He even swam in the lake at the end. He was a champ- was very willing to trot forward and lead our small group without needing any encouragement or worrying too much that we were 'leaving' his new girlfriends behind, which was nice since both the mares thought it would be wiser to take it easy and meander along than trot off in the heat, but were willing to follow without issue. At the end of 15 miles with I don't know how much up and down with the hills, he chowed down on some beet pulp slurry, tanked up on water and looked fit and ready to go again. He also learned how to turn his head and take snacks from me while I was in the saddle.
Me- not so much. I need to get in better shape and drink more water myself! I thought I was doing alright with the 1L I got down, but wound up constantly thirsty and downing another couple liters the rest of the evening. Feeling good today though, not too stiff or sore, so there is hope!
I also need to buy sponge-on-a-rope for us and figure out what our human accommodations are going to be, but things are looking good and so far, I am LOVING Tennessee!
A question: aside from elevated HR/resp/temp or lameness/soreness/pain issues, how do you tell a horse is tired or no longer 'having fun'? Our endurance guide said her mare (not her endurance horse) was about done, but how did she know? I know after swimming, my guy was breathing hard, so we stood and rested for a bit, but even at the end, he was willing and forward. Not spooky or naughty, but not at all unwilling to trot or move out. Can a horse just be too cooperative for their own good? My guy lives to please, so I want to make sure I am not asking (and him giving) more than he is ready for. It's either that, or I just have never managed to make him tired enough to want to stop yet, and he really is in that much better shape than I am. ;)
Unfortunately, a lot of horses WILL be too cooperative for their own good. I think being able to take HRs on trail and knowing your horse's normal recovery times is a great way to know when enough is getting to be enough.
If you don't have a fancy heartrate monitor than you can use as you ride, just bring a stethoscope and start hopping off to check rates at random times, to give you an idea of where 'normal' is for your horse (and remember that will vary depending on speed, heat, terrain, etc). You can also practice taking the pulse in the vessel under the jaw, then you don't even need a stethoscope to get a rate.
I know when Dream gets tired, she starts to get stumbly. Not a fall down kind of stumble, but she stops paying as close attention to where her feet are going. The motion of her gait also changes, though she is equally willing to go forward.. it's a subtle thing, but you will start noticing those things as you spend more time on trail.
The best thing to use to not override your horse is your BRAIN. If you think about what you have asked and put in in perspective, you should be able to guess if you are starting to push the limit. And remember that pushing the limit in a mild way is the key to conditioning - you just don't want to go massively overboard.
Where did you live in TX? We just moved to KY form TX last year. Maybe we could get together.
I'm pretty sure my horse gets angry when he's had enough, starts putting he's ears back, nothing too nasty but you can tell he's fed up
GreenTree- I've been going to Land Between the Lakes, but I know PennyRile is also pretty easy to get to from here. I'm always game for meeting up! And there is the Big South Fork endurance ride in middle TN this September!
Had another great ride today- very technical trail is spots, including some that had me looking down the steep slope, back at our more experienced friend and back down again in disbelief. But, she was right! The horses really had to get their booties under themselves and pay attention, but all three got down the slope without any trouble and without seeming even phased. *I* on the other hand think I gave myself a new ulcer. The next steep one we both were able to relax and wasn't nearly so scary (to me). Goes to show- my horse is smarter than I am and knows his job better than I do. 12 miles of mostly tough trail and he was happy as can be. Maybe I'll be able to make him tired next weekend!
I don't think that my body can make my horse tired...........
Sounds like FUN!! My neighbor took me on some trails like that up here at Mammoth Cave.... Riding on sliding gravel INCHES away from a 400 ft drop, then jumping up slick rocks on ridges that go straight off on BOTH sides!!?!!
I will PM you my info!!
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