Monday, November 28, 2011

Retrospective numbers

This is something I always wished I could've seen when I started endurance training. How do you actually develop a consistent trot, starting from a horse that isn't fit and can't mentally handle trotting down a trail? Well, I still can't explain it, but I can show you my results.

Here's our first 20 mile NEDA ride in February of '10. All the stuff I mentioned in the comments of my last post were very scary indeed - attack mini horses, scary yard art, dangerous people lurking in their yards. I think that ride even went past the ultimate nightmare of any horse: the alpaca.

The points just below the 5 mph marker were her walk speed - under 4 mph, about 3.8. The pointy bits were her surging into a trot or a rack (I really can't remember if she gaited or not) at 7.5 or so.

Here's our first AERC LD, at Rides of March '10.

She was very excited for the first 10 miles, staying mostly in a 10 mph rack. At about 11 miles I finally got her to slow the hell down and we headed into the check (just about the middle of the graph). She came out of the hold really strong, but tired - you can see the peaks get further and further apart as she walks more and racks less. At 21 miles, about 2/3 of the way along, she got really tired and the whole thing became a slog for us. I didn't want to spend three more hours out there so I started literally kicking her into a trot for a minute, then walking for a minute. Her "oh god I'm soooo tired" trot was between 5-8 mph, depending on the incline and whether or not she could see another horse in the distance.

Here's Nevada Moonshine '10.

The vet check was at 20 miles, about 2/3 of the way along the graph. I was really pretty happy with her performance. It was DARK up in the hills, and the full moon didn't help as much as you'd think - it was behind the hills for an hour, then it was so low that it made crazy shadows and didn't help much. She still wasn't very consistent - she'd leap into a trot then slow on down til she needed to walk again.

After Moonshine, we bought the house. I don't think I managed another distance ride, either NEDA or AERC, til ROM '11.

It was a debacle. I let Dixie try to keep up with a horse that was going just a bit faster than she could manage. ("Ride your own ride" is so hard!) The weather was atrocious, blowing snow for the first part of the morning then warming up quite a bit. She wouldn't drink (I didn't electrolyte) and she was very hairy indeed. She got really tired about 10 miles in and we walked into the first check at the halfway point. The second loop was even worse - she didn't recover at the hold because she wasn't drinking, so she kept trying to lunge into a trot, but she was too tired to keep it going and fell back to a walk. Bad management on my part, but this is how you learn how to manage. We got pulled at the second check - not that I would've asked her to continue in her state.

At the beginning of April we did the Derby.

This was a good ride. I electrolyted Dixie before, during, and after the ride. She still did not drink til the vet check at 20 miles, but by god once she started drinking she tanked up. It was a much easier flatter ride, and you can see that we were finally pacing well. The jagged bits at the 1/3 mark were when we climbed the Big Hill she evened back out. Her TCB trot/gait was about 8 mph, and her recovery walk was 4.5-5 mph. The check was at 20 miles, so about 3/4 of the way along the graph.

The ride after that was our first 50, at High Desert. I'm not going to post the graph because it's too compressed - it's 50 miles squeezed into the same horizontal space as these 20-30 mile rides, so it's much more jagged. It was hilly and hard, and Dave Rabe babysat us through it and he is a saint of a human.

Here's another NEDA ride in May. Silver Springs again - look at how much she's improved over (basically) the same course in 15 months!

9 mph trot, 4-4.5 walk. Much more trotting than walking. The right amount of electrolytes, and a weather-appropriate coat. ;)

In June I went out and broke my horse at NASTR, which pretty much torpedoed the rest of the year. Here's the last chart, for yesterday's ride:

Scroll up and compare it to the very first graph. She's become really consistent - she's way stronger, she's learned that she has to keep moving steadily forward past the abandoned couches and evil minis, and I'm way better at holding her to a certain sustainable speed. She gets tired and starts "surging" around 15 miles - but damn, we've done no real training for about three months!

I don't know if further (flat) rides of less than 15 miles will do her much good. I think climbing hills on short rides will still help, but I suspect a flat 15 mile ride won't really do much to condition her. It's pretty damn boring to ride north to Palomino Valley and back down to the house, but that's what I'm going to have to do. Maybe one long ride every two weeks, weather permitting, and I'll reevaluate in February. And I'll try to get out and climb the hill behind our house once a week.


  1. I wonder if I ever actually plugged my GPS into the computer if I'd get feedback like this. It is kind of cool to see how she is getting better at maintaining a constant speed. So far we're just not there. Funny though how minis and other such smaller animals are big fear factors though.

  2. Caitlin, you have a Garmin right? You need this for Windows or this for Mac. It's not very full featured but it does the job.

    Once you pull the data off the device with the Garmin Training Center app, you can export rides and view them in other programs. I never found one I really liked for my Mac, so I just use Google Earth and the Garmin program.

    That's how I get my miles totals for the sidebar. ;)

  3. Very cool!

    It is tough to ride your own ride when you are just getting into things seriously. It takes time to develop that feel and we often look to others and try to emulate what they are doing.

    I am giggling thinking about Dixie's 5mph walk. I'm guessing Frosty walks about 2 mph. He sure wouldn't cut it as a competitive endurance horse. ;-)

  4. It all sounds a bit confusing but from what i can tell see seems to have evened out quite a lot, Congrats.

  5. You have done a great job, and you've done it your own way. There is definitely a learning curve to this sport, especially riding non-typical breeds. Dixie is looking awesome. Filled out, fit, and healthy.

    I've started saving my GPS info. I plan to do comparisons of the same course in training over time to gauge how we are doing. Right now we have some pretty pointy peaks on the graph.

    I want that wonderous 5 mph walk. Geez.......our's is 3 mph! ~ E.G.

  6. What a cool entry! It's fascinating to track stuff like this, and awesome to see the progress! Go Dixie!

  7. We need to have a "walking race"! Dixie against Farah! :-)
    Have to say that I'm impressed! Great stats & so fun to "see" where you're going! Or Dixie is going... or where you both have been! :-)
    (Thanks for the links Funder!)

  8. (P.S. How old is Dixie?)
    I've found developing a consistent speed when you train by yourself - to be difficult. I've been known to "cheat" & ride with friends who's horses are already "there". Maintaining a consistent speed during a ride, I like to think of as maintaining "momentum". You might go slowly through a difficult section, but when able - pick back up your "working" pace. That might mean going faster at first, while Khari is "hot" - (this also prevents me from being bucked-off), then settling into a pace that I know will get us through in a time that I feel reasonable for the trail, weather, level of condition, etc.

  9. Connie, she's 9.

    I live by my GPS watch when we're training alone. We will trot-by-god-i-said-trot for 10 minutes, then walk for a minute. When we started out it was trot-by-god for 3 minutes - but she was also utterly terrified of everything we saw. She's allowed to slow down when we hit rocks, but she's pretty nimble and often just keeps trotting through them. Hills are hard for us. She does better going uphill when we're headed home, but she still can't trot the whole Big Hill on our main training route.

    She rates surprisingly well at rides! I cheat and ride in a short shank Myler curb and she's much more ratable than in a snaffle.

    Also she has no buck at all. No buck makes up for a lot in my book!

  10. This endurance this is WAY more complicated than I ever thought.

  11. Wow. That's actually really interesting. Kinda makes me want to buy an Arab and start endurance!

  12. I'm actually starting to track information about my own running. I should compare my stats to Dixie!

  13. I love looking at your data. Being that I am a pleasure rider going the distance rather than a distance rider, my pace is always sooo slowww. A lot of it is nature of the beast - when you ride with pleasure riders, you can't always pick you pace. I looked when I competed CTR and was surprised my average was just 3.0.

    I would love to pick up the pace a bit next year. Will look at where I've been and set new goals.

  14. That is very cool!! I wish I could figure out my GPS (its a Delorme) so I could track stats like that when I start Cartman out next year. Hmmm, a little motivation there, thanks!

    Hey are you anywhere near Antelope Valley? I think that is the area we looked at last summer near Reno, there were a LOT of horse properties there.

  15. The stats say it all: you two are doing a great job! Wish I had the time to get into some of the LD stuff, although I think I prefer the actual 'challenges' of trail riding to the distance, you know, figuring out how to deal with obstacles.


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