Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday hill work

I'd planned on doing a long ride Saturday, but Cersei really needed to get out for a run too so I made it a short hill day. We went up the hill behind the house and back - 5.25 miles in 58 minutes. Not bad at all for Dixie.

She was particularly squirrely at the start. Lately she's been thinking about spooking and bucking at imaginary boogies when we first start our rides, and I'd really prefer it if she doesn't properly develop her bucking instincts and muscles, so we just walked for the first half mile. By then we were on a wide hard sand road that slants uphill, so I kicked her up to a trot and pretty much kept her there most of the way up the mountain. When we got near the top she was breathing really hard, so we stopped til her HR dropped.

I passed up the chance, yet again, to get a HRM for Christmas. G offered, but... they don't work unless the girth is tight. My girth is rarely properly tight. My Garmin is too old to work with one, so I'd either need a standalone (kinda dumb) or a new Garmin to go with it, and my old Garmin works perfectly well for what I need, and I've floundered along without a HRM for two years so obviously I don't need one. It seems like a nice option, not a necessity.

So here's my ghetto HRM: If the horse is panting hard, I ask her to stop in the shade. Then I lean over and slap my hand on her left flank just ahead of the girth. If her heartbeat is really fast I let her stand. (I usually take this opportunity to tighten up the dangling girth.) When I slap my hand down there again a minute later, if it feels near 60 we go on. (I use the one-Mississippi method of checking heart rate - if it's equal to or less than once per second, she's down.)

We stopped for a bit near the summit, then headed further up. I saw a fork I'd never noticed before and we climbed one more tiny steep hill, but the trail ran over the BLM fence - literally. Various recreational users had knocked down the posts and kinda-trampled the barbed wire into the ground, and I didn't see any reason to walk my horse over that loose wire. We were at 2.86 miles: good enough.

We turned for home and I let her fly. I only asked that she stay in a nice gait - she mostly step-paced, but she racked a bit too. We took a different shorter road home, because it's way more fun to gait down. :)

After we got home I locked Cersei in the yard until she cooled down. No more puke in my house, missy!

On Thursday or Friday I had to go to Office Depot for some blank CDs. The bargain bins on the way to the checkout caught my eye, and I bought two of these for $1 each.

They're flat plastic drinking bags with pop-tops and mini carabiners. They're made in China, so I'm sure they're full of cancer and heavy metals - but I'm going to hang them on my saddlebags to squirt on my mare's neck. (No offense, Dixie, but I'm not all that worried about you getting cancer from plastic contact!) Ahhh, how I long for the days when it's hot and I need to cool her off...


  1. I'm really glad to read your position on having a HRM. I have one but I only used it twice and haven't touched it in two years. I get asked if I use one ALL the time and start to feel guilty that I don't. But like you, I had a successful time without it and feel that I know my horses pretty well. I'm pretty sure my Garmin I always wear could even do it but...I'm just into it.

    Dixie sounds fun to ride, her gaits must be a blast! The Foxtrotter I briefly owned would not get into gait for all the tea in China sometimes but when he did it was a blast!

  2. Whoa! Love the squirty flat ROYAL BLUE bottles. I would like four please ;)

    You may not have intended it...but I found the heart rate thing hilarious.

    Are you shooting for 50's next year?

    ~ E.G.

  3. Oh! The heart rate monitor. I don't use mine on board much anymore. Find it distracting having to fiddle with it when it slips out of contact and gives weird readings. What I do love is my handheld for checking post ride pulse, as it assures me I'm not over-riding. I'll probably put mine back into use when we get up to twenty miles as we haven't gone that far yet and I'll want to know she is doing alright. Once they are fit? Eh! Just ride.

  4. I'd love to have a HRM for particularly strenuous rides....But like you, I go off their breathing and that seems to work just fine.
    Still.It sounds like a fun gadget!

  5. We used to use a hrm back in the old days when David was a serious eventer. He had a great horse who would get inverted, so we did a lot of conditioning work with a hrm. That's the only time we've used one, and the only horse we felt needed one.

  6. You're hard pressed to find anything that isn't made in China these days... I'm sure Dixie won't mind when it's 100 degrees outside. Sounds like a lovely ride!


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