Endurance Journey Thread
Hey everyone! I've been off the grid for a while adjusting to my new job and life. Many of you probably remember my endurance adventures last year with my horse Snickers and how I had to sell him when I graduated and moved for my new teaching job. I'm happy to say that things have become more balanced now and that I'm finally taking baby steps to get back into endurance! Though it looks very different this time.
With my return to participating in the endurance world (yes, I've been quietly in the background watching this entire time), I'd like to start a thread for us to post updates on our (meaning all of us, not just mine) endurance adventures and journeys. We all know endurance is a constant work in process to condition and achieve the next goal, whether that be to cross the finish line or maybe even to Top 10 or BC. I'd like to share my journey as well as share in yours :) And, a new year is the perfect time to start!
I'm thinking a good place to get started would be to write an introduction about you and your horse as well as your goals for endurance :) I'm working on my introduction now!
OK so for me....
I don't have an endurance Arabian anymore. In fact, I don't even have a horse that I thought would even do endurance. What I do have is this super awesome foundation bred sturdy Quarter Horse, my baby Flash. He's turning four in May and showing a LOT of promise mentally and physically though, so I think we may be able to give endurance a shot after all. Yes, we're taking it extremely slow, but I hope to do our first LD at Strawberry Fields in June. My plan is to get both of us in really good shape and then tackle the ride at a slow pace with lots of walking/jogging on foot.
I've been working a lot to get Flash exposed to the world of trail, though that doesn't take much. He's such a good boy and so smart - he's alert and thinks about things, but is about as close to bombproof as it gets. For our current "events", we are participating in ACTHA events and trail rides in as many new places as possible. I'm really trying to test his limits and his mind, but I never come away disappointed. We just did our first AOC a few weeks ago and placed fifth! We've got about 1-2 rides per month coming up, so I'm excited to practice and see his progress. In the meantime, we're doing flat conditioning working on getting him into shape (this horse gets fat on air) and testing how well he does when asked to cover distance at a little bit more speed. Right now, we're doing a lot of walking mixed with trotting, plus occasionally jogging in hand, but he moves right now and seems always happy to move right along! His readiness and willingness to just keep on going (at a trot) is what makes me think I've got an awesome endurance horse in there (maybe not fast, but a joy to ride and with the mentality to do great). Plus, this horse takes care of himself better than any horse I know - nothing gets between him and his food AND he drinks like a whale!
I'm really excited about our new riding territory. I'm in Las Vegas and have to board, so I was very worried about coming down here and especially when I moved my horse from the out-of-town facility to one closer in. However, I couldn't have picked a better spot. There's a bridle park with a full size arena, round pens, and an empty lot for "trial" riding across the street and it's lit until 11pm. With it getting dark before I can get out to see Flash, this meant I could finally work with him on a regular basis to fine-tune his training. Moreover, there are bridle paths along the roads so I can trail ride at night with excellent footing. Just before I left on Christmas vacation, we did a 9-mile ride and had a blast. Finally, there are a few ways to ride out to the desert to the north, where you can keep going for miles. If you head west, you get to the state park. If you ride in on horseback, you don't have to pay a fee and there are miles of horse trails within the park. There's also water, though not necessarily within safe reach of horse noses so I recently got a collapsable water bucket to scoop it for him.
Anyway, that's us for now. When I get home from visiting family, we'll get right back into conditioning as well as inventing as many scary things for us to tackle as possible in preparation for ACTHA. I'm also going to start my annual mileage log to track our progress :) It's so exciting to be putting fresh batteries into my GPS after a year off!
Hmmm.... My endurance journey is coming along in fits and starts, not the least of which is an expected 9 month deployment next summer. That really puts a kink in the ride time. :) Anyone need a lease? Lol.
That said, I bought my guy two years ago and he and Flash sound like they could be brothers! At nearly 9, my "for sale because he's too spooky" QH has turned into a nearly bombproof gelding. He's learned everything I know how to teach and has handled having a fair handful of other people ride him without batting an eyelash. Add that to a willingness to just keep going and a little bit of a competitive streak (his, not mine, and just enough to add some oomph) and I couldn't ask for more.
We attempted three LDs last season, with our only non-complete being the first one, which had many factors that went into it (heat, humidity, lack of experience on both our parts, riding someone else's ride, etc). Our last ride more than made up for it. We went from a non-complete to a completion to a "wait, are we done already?" that has me considering a 50 this April. He eats, and eats, and eats, and drinks well (though only after the first 10 miles when it's cool) and doesn't fuss about other horses coming, going or doing anything else. The only 'con' is that he wants to slow down and be the most pathetic "only horse in the world, may as well lay down and die" if he can't see anyone else out on the trail. I will have to get tough with him- the one and only time that happened I was too concerned I had broken my horse to realize he was playing me... up until the end when we saw other horses again, anyhow! Now I know that trick.
Given that both my horse and I are rookies and still learning, I expect we'll have quite a few more fits and starts and bumps along the way, but so long as he's healthy and sound and we're both having fun, it's all good. I've benefited from a lot of good, experience mentors along the way, so they've tried to keep me out of the weeds for the most part, and for the most part I've been able to listen and apply things well.
ETA: Tracking mileage sounds great! I wish I could do that. I just am too absent-minded about that stuff though. I usually forget to bring my GPS, and when I do bring it, I usually forget to turn it on! So I do pretty much all my riding and training with no GPS, no heart rate monitor, nothing fancy. Very low-tech. I usually remember a map and my watch at least though! I am going to try to remember to put my compass in my bag too, so it can just live there. I know how to use a map and compass, so it's good survival equipment for me. :)
We got back from our Christmas vacation early so I'm riding sooner than I'd expected. Flash and I have been exploring the bridle paths and trails around our area by night, so I'm definitely taking advantage of having daylight and other people to ride with to find new ones. My BO and another boarder showed up right as I was saddling up, so I didn't pass up on the opportunity to go riding with them today and found a new loop for us to condition on. Of course, that means we took it at a slower pace and mostly walked, but it was a good first ride after some time off. We went through the desert to the state park, then followed bridle paths back along the road. For conditioning, I have a number of things I record on my GPS to calculate how far and how fast I went to track our improvement and make sure I'm adding only distance or speed, not both.
Distance: 8.86 miles
Total time: 2 hrs 40 mins
Moving time: 2 hrs 37 mins
Moving average: 3.4mph
Max speed: 12mph
After January 1, I'll add my "Annual" Odometer which keeps track of my total mileage for the year :) Tomorrow I plan to ride a similar route as we did today but with more trotting.
I do not want to hijack your thread, but where did you get Flash? I have a friend who breeds FQH, and she had a colt just like him, and called him Flash.......just curious!
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His registered name is Flashin Dry Jack and he's on All Breed Pedigree
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My friend lives in TX, so not the same horse...just a coincidence!!! BOTH of the Flashes are really cute!
Not into Endurance - but nice to have you back and to hear that you're settled into the new home
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