I am hoping to get my mare ready to do some endurance this summer (just shorter 15-25 mile rides to start with). She is high energy, has a fast trot for her size (can easily keep up with my friends TB that is 16++ hands and all legs), and is the kind of horse that can just keep going and going without getting overly tired. Plus she has never been lame for anything more then hoof trimming problems.
Anyways, I was hoping somebody could answer some questions. I was wondering what the best way to get her in shape would be? I've heard short bursts of trotting to start with and varrying terraign with lots of hills helps. Is this true?
How often do I have to ride to get her in shape? We were thinking 4 days a week on the trails, and the other days I would work her for atleast an hour in the arena. Will this work?
What is a vet going to look for at the rides? My mare has a white spot on her eye (a 'scar' from falling and scratching her eyeball) but does not effect her vision. Will a vet care about this, or are they going to be looking mostly at legs, hydration, condition, etc?
And anything else you think I should know. There is no such thing as too much information on this subject for me right now :D
1st. Go to your first few rides with the understanding that you are there for the experience, NOT to win. even if you do the Limited distance, if your horses gets excited ( which she will with a group of strange horses all around her) all of her vitals will bump up. Just remember that the first few rides are just for experience, You and your horse both need to learn from the experience.
2nd Conditioning. Just like any distance athlete, your horse will need to work up to competing. Luckily horses adapt fairly quickly. Horses in the wild easily travel 12-20 miles in a day. So this is not an extreme work out for your horse. Unless you have kept her in stall with limited turn out. But if you are riding your horse on a regular basis. Stretching the distance won't be a big deal. Learn how to read your horses P&R's. Know what her resting Pulse and Heart rate are. When you exercise ( just like humans) her P&R will jump up. The key is the how quickly she will recover. At the vet checks, the vet will be looking at how she moves. Does she show any lameness. They will take you horses P&R's and you will not be able to proceed until your horse recovers to a resting rate. The good horses will recover to a 4-7 heartbeats in 15 seconds count in less than 10 minutes of rest.
There are two types of conditioning, Soft Tissue and Hard Tissue. Soft Tissue is the muscles. Heart, lungs, etc,. These adapt fairly quickly over several months to regular exercise. The hard tissue - Ligaments, tendons, bones take much longer to adapt. so even though your horse may show great Heart and Respiration after 60 days of work outs, Remember the hard tissue take longer and don't over due it. You don't want a bowed tendon or a stress crack.
The winners will probably finish the 50 miles in 4.5 hours depending on the course. but you have 12 hours to complete the 50 miles. ( I don't remember the allowable time for Limited rides) Take your time. You don't need to canter the whole way. A brisk walk, intersperesed with trots will get the job done. Remember a slow walk for a horse is still 3 mph. So you could walk all of the 25 mile limited course in 8 hours. A brisk walk is 5 mph. Most trots will put you 6-10 mph.
take your horse out for 3-4 times a week and ride for several hours. Brisk walks at first, start mixing in some shorter distance trotting as your horse accepts the work out. Watch his P&Rs and if he is recovering OK, Then step up the length of the trots.
Learn how to read your horses hydration. Skin Tent, Capillary Refill, Press on the gum line and see how long it takes for the pink to return, gut sounds. Learn what is normal and watch that he doesn't get dehydrated.
After you ride watch for soreness and stiffness. Check for lameness, ( lounge in a circle usually showes this off) check for stiffness or soreness in the loins. run your finger tip or end of pen along his spine. Older horses will stock up in the lower legs after a good work out. If your horse does, learn how to deal with it.
Good Luck and have fun
I haven't read Painted Horse's replay yet but it doesn't take alot of conditioning to do a 15 which I didn't know existed, our shortest is 25 miles. It doesn't take much to do 25 miles. Any horse in reasonable conditon can do it.
'You don't need to ride daily. If 4 outs a week is what you feel like that is more then enough to get ready for a 25.
Even travelling slow you can do it in 4 hours.
Most of your trail rides can be in the 10 mile range, a nice working trot for most of the ride will quickly put both of you in condition.
Even if you get out and walk for 3 hours it helps.
The best working pace is a nice relaxed trot, easier on your butt, keeps the horse motivated and you cover ground.
A nice trot is about 8 mph or a 3 hour 25 which again is still going fast.
Don't overthink this, get a friend who wants to do it and go out and do it.
The vet is NOT looking for anything other then the condition of the horse. He is not your enemy, he is not trying to pull you.
Pulse and respiration is set at a certian limit, ours is mainly 64 and as long as your horse drops down to this level or below you are free to continue.
The 25 is broken down into 2 12.5 mile sections.. YOu cover 1 12 mile section, rest for 30 minutes and then run the last 12 mile section.
The rest time is for your horse to rest, eat, you take a pee break, eat yourself and then when the clock time is up off you go again.
It is NOT hard, you can do it and if you could get someone who has already done one so much the better.
BUT 2 people just going to have fun?? It is easy, new trails, exciting people around you, vets taking care of your horse, again they love the sport, love the horses and are not looking to pull you.
Ride your 4 times a week, take the other 3 days off and you will be fine.
Unless your horse has a weight problem or age problem any horse can do the 25.
RiosDad, You did a good job of reinforcing my post. the point is this is not a huge deal for most horses. If you don't push them and ask them to lead everybody.
I showed up to my first endurance race expecting to do the Limited 25. Everybody there pushed me to do the entire 50, So I did. I came in 4th out of 37 riders and finished in 5 hours. I did learn a lot about endurance at that ride.
Go and have fun. Learn all about it.
At 15 or 25 miles, 15 is typically a novice competitive ride so that folks can get the feel of the sport.
Are you going to be doing competitive distance? There are some factors that do differ from the endurance rides.
With endurance you can get off and lead/jog on foot all you want.
In competitive all stages of the run have set times to arrive at various check points. You have to maintain a certain pace over the entire coarse and if you are too fast, come in too early you loose points as you do if you are too slow. It is not a race, it is only about covering the coarse in a certain time.
ALL marks on the horse obtained in the ride are marked against you so be sure to point everything out to the vet before the race so they can mark it on your card.
Competitives are not usually 50 miles, more like 25-35.
Mileage rides of 25 miles are only to introduce you to distance riding and other then making the 64 pulse requirement to continue on you just go out and have fun.
This is just me bored and rambling. But about Pulse??
A horse's resting pulse can be anywhere from 30-40 but at the rides they choose 64 most of the time as the maximum for moving on through what they call a gate. This gate is about 12 miles into the ride and when you come to it there are people there checking your horse and if you are above 64 you must wait until the pulse is below this 64.
I ride up to the gate and stop about 100 yards from this gate, get off, loosen the girth and lead the horse to the gate and he will be down below 64 so I call for a check. If he passes the checker writes a time on a score card. This is your in time, exactly 30 minutes after that time you can check out. There is a guy sitting at the check out gate, he takes your card and marks your check out time and won't let you move out until the time is up. You are free to stay as long as you like but most move out when then 30 minute hold is up.
During this time a vet looks at your horse checking like Painted horse said for lameness, unsoundness, serious wounds, etc, all for the health of the horse but he is not trying to pull you. He is looking out for the horse. He is your friend.
When you are free to leave you have the other 12 miles to cover for home, back to the trailer.
If you are doing a 50 you usually run the same 25 mile loop over again, same routine , only doing it twice..
A word on pulse. A working horse cruises as about 135 effortlessly. He can maintain this all day, he is not producing lactic acid, he is running on oxygen. If he starts working at above 150, say it is slighlty uphill, he is fatigued, the footing is heavy going, he is going lame, he is sick, etc.
He is working above his comfort zone and above 150 lactic acid starts building in his system and you have to slow down to prevent him from running into trouble.. I don't expect you to monitor him, to even know if he is running into trouble, just be aware that at the vet checks they are checking his recovery. If any of these things are building up he will not drop below the 64. Again to go out and have fun on a 25 you don't need this but to be competitive in the 50 a heart rate monitor really helps..
My guy could cruise at 135 all day and on some hills he ran 160 but going over the top it would drop to 110 almost immediately.
this is just garbage on pulse and not something you need to get caught up on the limited mileage.
soon time to go home and go for a run on my boy:-)
Thanks so much you guys.
I do have somebody that is riding with me (she hauls us to the trails, I dont have a trailer) and she asked me to look around and find some info on the endurance stuff.
Also, is there a good way to find endurance rides in my area? I've googled it but nothing has come up.
Go to Ridecamp and look at the calendars.
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