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Brighteyes 03-24-2009 01:33 PM

Three Questions
As the title suggests, I have three competitive trail riding questions. Hang tight, everyone, cause I just may sound like a total n00b.:shock:
  1. The horse I would like ride is a 15+ year old fjord/icelandic pony mix. She is a really funny looking horse, and my freind said that no one would take us seriously. I'm not even sure a horse that old could hold up on the trails. What does everyone think? Would it work out?
  2. How do I tell if she is even ready? I've worked pretty hard getting her in shape, but I don't know it it's good enough. Is there something I could do to tell if she's ready?
  3. Do I have to shoe her? She's currently bare foot, and I like to keep my horses without shoes whenever possible. (Yes, stupid question)
Thanks in advance!

mls 03-24-2009 01:36 PM

1. Looks have nothing to do with it.

2. What has your conditioning schedule been. How is she recovering (P/R) after your conditioning rides?

3. No. If she can handle the trails without shoes - more power to her!

Vidaloco 03-24-2009 01:50 PM

We don't do competitive but I know during most organized rides they will have a vet check at the beginning and at several points along the way. If your horse is in distress they will pull you from the race.
Your horse should be able to do 5-10 miles a day for 4-5 days of the week before you go on a 50 mile trek away from home too.
Varied terrain is pretty common so make sure his feet are in good shape and if he get the ouchies on rough stuff, you might consider investing in some hoof boots for those times.
You should be able to average 5 miles per hour which is fairly fast. Our girls average around 4-8 miles an hour on most rides. Thats walk gait and lope combined. I take a GPS to gauge our speed and distance traveled when we go on long treks.
This is what we do in a non-competitive setting. I can't imagine it would be much different in a competition. We just don't get a prize :lol:

Painted Horse 03-24-2009 08:44 PM

I used to do a lot of competitive trail rides. Even sponsored and put on a ride for 4 years. So for what it worth here is my advice.

As stated above. Who cares what the horse looks like?
I knew a man who rode CTR ever other weekend he was 86 years old and his horse was 28 years old. They rode in the Open Class and often won. So don't worry about a 15 year old horse.

You need to be more concerned about the horses conditioning. Do you know how to take your horses Pulse and Respiration? If not learn how and as your condition the horse watch his P&R's.

CTR has several classes of riders. You will start out in the Novice Class. Which is a shorter distance at a slower speed with easier obsticles. Your combined two day ride will be about 40 miles total. ( Open riders do about 50 miles) So the question is can your horse do a 20 mile ride at 4-5 mph? That is a brisk walk with a few trots for a novice rider. So take your horse out and do some practice rides. Maybe start out with 10 mile rides, Walk briskly, Maybe 5 miles into the ride stop and give him a 10 minute rest and then immediately take his P&R's After 10 minutes of rest he probably should have pulse and respiration of less than 12 beats or breaths in a 15 second period. If his P&R's are higher than 12 after a 10 minute rest, He is being stressed and you need to maybe cut the ride short. Work up to where he can do 5 miles, then 10 miles, then 10 miles with the last mile at a trot, then 15 miles with a couple of trots some where in that distance. When your horse can cover 20 miles and not show signs of stress, you are ready for a CTR.

As the distances increase, you will also need to pay attention to hydration in addition to P&R rates. Start doing Pinch or tent test on his shoulder, Look at the color capillary refill of his gums. Become familair with his normal gut sounds and be able to hear if his gut sound dimish. during rides give him every chance to drink. If it's a long ride ( like 5-6 8 hours) give him a chance to graze somewhere along the trail. Pull up under a tree and enjoy the shade for a few minutes and let him enjoy the green grass. You want to keep a distance horse's gut working all day. Also take a few minutes along the ride to try various obsticles. You won't always be moving down the trail during a CTR. Stop and give the horse a break and ask him to step over a log, sidepass over and hang your coat on a branch, Open a gate from the saddle, something to ask for control vs just mortoring down the trail.

After the ride look at his legs, Both immediately , several hours after and even the next day. Look and see if he has any filling in his pasterns. Filling is not as much of a problem with younger horses, But older horse will show the swelling. Especially if he is out of shape. Part of CTR is the conditioning of the horse. You can fairly quickly build up the soft tissues (heart and lungs), The harder the tissue the longer it takes to condition it. So ligiments and tendons take longer to build than lungs and muscles. Bones take even longer. So as you start to work him harder you need to watch for signs of stress in these harder tissue. You want enough work to strengthen the tissue but not cause lameness.

Check his back, several hours after you finish the days ride. See if he has any sore spots along his spine. Even if his saddle fits, some horses get excited during a ride, they tense up and/or won't collect up. This can cause sore muscles along the spine or on the croup.

These are all things you will learn as you do CTR. So don't think you need to master all of this before doing a CTR. But just start to notice and pay attention. It will help you to know when your horse is conditioned enough. Most horses a 20 mile ride is not a big deal. But if he is fat and out of shape, it will stress him.

Good luck and have fun.

Painted Horse 03-25-2009 07:33 AM

The type of horse you ride will have more effect than the age of the horse. Heavily muscled horses have more trouble disappating heat than thin horses. ie. Quarter horses have a harder time than an Arab. I don't have any experience with Fjord horses. But from the pictures I've seen , they seem to lean toward the heavier, stockier build which means they will have a harder time getting rid of body heat.

This isn't a big deal in performance/speed events where the event is over in 5 minutes. It is a big deal when you are asking the horse to perform for 8 hours.

A horse can only disappate so much heat through his skin. they will often "Pant" like a dog to give heat off through their breathing. Thats why it's important to observe his respiration and how quickly they recover to a resting respiration rate. Also sweat can affect cooling. Horses that eat a calcium rich diet (Like Alfalfa) produce a heavier lather for sweat. Horses on grass diet usually have a more clear watery sweat. The heavy lather covers the horses skin and doesn't allow the heat to disappate as well as a thin watery sweat. If you horse has trouble during long periods of work with cooling off, You may have to help. spray bottles of water, sponges, dumping your water bottle over his neck or rump to help rinse off the caking sweat or just to help cool those areas. When you take breaks, pull the saddle and blanket and let the heat out of his back. And you may have to look at his diet to help with his sweat . But this all comes with experience. You have to learn your horse and how he performs and then you can learn how to help him perform at a higher level.

Miss Katie 03-25-2009 09:48 AM

One trick I was taught when I was a strapper with an endurance rider is to trot through the hot, sunny areas, and walk in the shade. Some people might find that strange but there is good reasoning behind it. When you trot, you create airflow. When you are walking you are traveling slower, thus maximizing the amount of time spent in the shade, while at the same time alowing the horse to catch air.
I dont know how the vetting works in America, but it might be a good idea to make sure your horse is comfortable having its temp taken. Also, is he ok with strangers touching him, and will he trot in hand?

There are lots of little tricks to learn. But you'll pick up on them as you go.

Joshie 03-27-2009 05:51 PM

1. Who cares what anyone else thinks.
2. What Vida said...
3. Depends upon terrain.

Brighteyes 03-27-2009 07:39 PM

Wow, very good information, thanks everyone!

To Vidaloco- 4-8 MPH? I used my friend's GPS yesterday and found that she usually does about 5 or 6 in a normal walk. So, one less thing to worry about. Yays! And about the feet; do they even make hoof boots big enough? Her feet are almost draft sized.

To Painted Horse- Wow, that was some REALLY good information, and alot of help. I am very, very grateful and will save that whole post on my computer for future reference. :D

To Miss Katie: I've never heard anything like this before, but I can see how it would work. Thanks!

smrobs 03-27-2009 07:48 PM

I would imagine that they do make hoof boots to fit larger footed horses but they may be hard to find and expensive when you do find them. I wish you luck.

Zanerkin177 03-29-2009 02:04 PM


Originally Posted by mls (Post 276138)
1. Looks have nothing to do with it.

2. What has your conditioning schedule been. How is she recovering (P/R) after your conditioning rides?

3. No. If she can handle the trails without shoes - more power to her!

I agree!

looks and age have NOTHING to do with it. the only way age would matter is if he is physically unable to do trails. and 15 is nothing! I know a 40 year old who is riding on the trails still :shock:(< I love this face, lol).

they'll take you seriously if you place that's for sure!

my 13yr mare that I ride had NO shoes, and I run on the trails. she has hooves of steel!

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