Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spring fever

I went out Friday and had a ride on my crazy mare. It was very windy - a storm front was blowing in - and Dixie has come into that first raging spring heat. She had completely forgotten all of her ground manners - she kept trying to run over me as I groomed her, and she tried to yank her feet away. The first mile had a lot of stopping to stare and hope a stallion came charging out of nowhere for some sweet lovin. We did the scenic hills and the mines - a pretty short ride.

Garmin - we did 6.99 in 1:40, average of 4.2 mph.

The full mines trail - what we did Friday - has a lot of very twisty singletrack. One day we'll be able to trot it or rack it, and I suppose I should go ahead and push Dixie to try it, but it's not the easiest trail in the world to head down at speed. More importantly, I wasn't pushing her too hard. I was very happy to just be back on my horse, back in these mountains I've come to love so much, watching a storm front roll in. She's just starting to shed seriously, and it was surprisingly warm (mid 50s) but with sustained winds of maybe 40 mph. Just didn't seem like the kind of day where you should push your horse to work hard, and I wasn't in the mood to work her hard.

Anyway! Comparing today's ride with one month ago, I see some nice improvement. (Oddly, one month ago was almost the same pace/time/distance.) Dixie's walk is improving - once she hit her groove / became resigned to her fate, she kept up a very businesslike walk above 4 mph. Her mid speed and her canter are improving in duration, too. The middle speed is switching around quite a bit - seems like it's trot maybe 1/3 of the time and something else more comfortable the other 2/3ds, probably a bit of RW and a lot of step pace.

Digression: sometimes I get incredibly discouraged that we'll never finish a 50 on time because she isn't making heroic gains in her cardio fitness / middle speed duration. It's cause I'm fat, or maybe cause she has cancer, or cause she's a gangly Walker and not a teeny narrow Arab. Then I breathe slowly and deeply, back away from the ledge, and talk sensibly - she IS making reasonable progress. That's why I have the blog and the GPS, so I can look back and see how she's improving. The winter coat will fall off, and she'll cool off faster, and I'll lose some weight now that the bar's over, and if she does have cancer that's just shitty luck, but she doesn't look in any way unhealthy. (If you're a somewhat new reader, I lost my heart-buddy gelding to fucking liver cancer, of all things, almost a year ago.)

Anyway. I don't know of any other endurance wannabes, much less non-arab endurance wannabes, who have posted GPS info as they first legged up a horse. If I had someone else's progress to compare to, I might feel better (or worse). But we'll muddle on through.

Today was stormy, and hopefully tomorrow will be clearer. I am going to rig up some cross ties and try to get off the loose winter hair, whether she likes it or not! Then we'll head out for a long ride, maybe 15 miles?


  1. I'm not an endurance rider. A group of my friends hosts a Competitive Trail Ride every other year. Since we set the trail and time it for the ride, my horse has to be conditioned as well as a competitive horse. I track our conditioning on the GPS and had intended to post it on my blog. If those times/distances will help you I'd be glad to post whatever detail you are looking for.

  2. I'm worthless when it comes to endurance or anything other than short, fat, lame ponies... but you always makes me laugh. :)

    You yourself said you're both improving, so that's a plus. Maybe it'll just take longer for the cardio part to catch up. :)

  3. Okay, gal, here ya go: Fiddle is the 3rd horse I've legged up from scratch, so I can give you some feedback (although, as you note, I don't have GPS or HRM data for any of them).

    Story was a 13-year-old STB mare when she started doing LDs. I had done about 2 years of plinking around on trails before we started endurance training; prior to that she had trained for (and lost) 10 races in Canada. She was great for endurance: very sure-footed, calm, a steady mid-pack finisher, and a delightful mount. Alas, she had a knee injury that prevented longer distance work and eventually led to her retirement and euthenasia.

    The Toad was bred for the sport: a CMK Arab gelding. Unfortunately, he only had half a brain, and was really a screwball. I legged him up for a year and started him on LDs and then moved to 50's in his first season, under the guidance of his owner (who didn't know any more than I did at the time). If I were to do it again, I'd slow way-the-heck down, and try to grow a brain in him. Instead, he and I completed more than 2000 miles together in about 8 years, and he only barely didn't kill me every step of the way.

    I got Fiddle when she was 4 years old, and intended to leg her up in a year or two. However, she was so mentally immature she seemed more like a 2-year-old. I slowed everything down for her and used an extra year to expose her to everything I could think of: packing, trail work, rodeo gaming, dressage, trick training, and now, finally some speed work.

    As far as I can tell, you are totally on track with your mare, especially if you are having fun. That's what the sport is all about...right?

  4. If she has "heat issues" you could give Mare Magic a try - it's inexpensive and is just pure raspberry leaves - I've had some success with Dawn using it. There are also a couple of nice raspberry leaf herbal teas for people that I enjoy.

  5. Kate has a good point: Mare Magic (dried raspberry leaves) do seem to work for a lot of horses (geldings and studs too, actually). It's legal for AERC.

    It won't "fix" heat issues, but it can alleviate some of the anxiety that mares get when they cycle.

  6. Hiya Fund!
    You inspire me! I do wish to try endurance sometime. I am to meet a gal that does it big time and says I may camp with them anytime..she will show me the ropes...gonna give it a try..but with a competitive not know if it'll work.
    She seems to like to go and I just found a Garmin....owners have not responded yet so I may download the basic instructions to how to program it. It does not have some of the capabilities yours seems to calories!

    Dixie may be good at it..but I think that many horses would..lighter framed ones. It is all in WHAT you ride for...if you ride for yourself and not the time or the should have a blast!
    If I do will be for us and not for anyone else...for fun and to have done it!

  7. Hey AKPG, CTR is just endurance with cleaner and better-trained horses. (Dixie and I can sidepass over any obstacle, as long as someone with a scary white crinkly tarp leaps out when we're parallel to the obstacle...) I guess I'm mainly curious about how many average MPH you gain per month of conditioning? I didn't start really pushing Dixie til January, and I think we've put on almost 1 mph over a 5-10 mile ride. Does that make sense?

    AareneX - thank you! I just get all nervous and need a bit of virtual hand-holding sometimes. :-/

    Kate, I've thought about raspberry leaves a couple of times. Dixie's not unrideable when she's in season, just a bit more opinionated. And she's fed in the pasture, so I'd have to go out daily to give her the supplement alone - I wouldn't feel right asking the BO to pull Dixie out to give her a special supplement. Remember, it's not really a barn, there's just me and one other boarder.

    Kacy - Eeeee, how cool! You should totally try endurance - many rides have a "fun ride" that's only 10 or 15 miles so you could see how well Wa copes with it. She might really surprise you!

    Don't worry about the calories - mine isn't accurate at all! I am burning hardly any, and Dixie is burning like 10x as many as me. I told mine I was cycling, because with mine you have to pick cycling or jogging.


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