Equipped with only the knowledge gained from years of reading , research and planning for the "someday", 2008 was my maiden voyage into the world of the endurance sport. I knew horses well enough. I knew the world of horse sports well enough. I also knew endurance would be a totally different ball game. The rest was all in the details and I would have to have to sort it all out as I went.
Looking back on 2008, we tallied up 220.5 miles , most of that was done in July and August. I kind of wince at those numbers when I look at my charts, two years later . Two years the wiser, I hope, afer experiencing it all first hand. Too much too soon? Maybe.. but maybe not. If I break it down on average, it was 20 miles a week, give or take.. so maybe not??
If I look back at my notes about JB's condition, attitude, he never displayed symptoms of overtraining during that time. His heel bruise probably can't be related to over conditioning , atleast I don't think so... (ofcourse, I am still , by all accounts, a bit of rookie at this sport!)
August and September were rough months for us in 2008, but by October, JB had bounced back and was being ridden again, equipped with EDSS pads and shoes.
In 2009, again, it appears that my miles were only beginning to add up in July. Part of it was footing...we had ice until May. Then, two mares arrived for breeding. Although I tried to maintain conditioning and training during breeding season, I quickly realized it was not going to be successful. So, training took the back seat. Finally in June JB was gelded. That was about 3 weeks of lay off time since he had the closed procedure done. And finally... we arrive in July, where we were finally able to get back on some sort of conditioning schedule.
In 2009, my main goal was to start JB slowly, get him limber in the arena, get a few "bugs" worked out, and then begin to build miles slowly. Given his inury to his hoof, I was definitely being overly careful with him, terrified of having another set back, of any kind. I had hoped going extra slowly would offer him and I the best opportunity to figure out a few things we hadn't been able to in 2008, like what "made him tick", what pace he worked best at, what was too much? and when to push and when to ease up. Somewhere in there I had hoped he would give me a sign to tell me whether this sport was going to be a fit for him..or not..
We hit the trails mid July in earnest and by August, JB was showing alot of indicators that he was ready for longer hours, tougher climbs and faster speeds. His movement and pace markedly improved with the boots and every mile that settled behind us, we found one little success after another. Before long he was outwalking and outlasting a few of the arabs we often rode with. He even found his big trot...very big trot.... on a condition ride. He also showed me just how tough he could be in October when we entered the CTR in Washington and had our share of challenges. By the end of that 25 miles, I knew I had myself a good endurance prospect, without a doubt.
So, 2009 goes out with a total 234.50 TRAIL miles. While we didn't gain alot in miles compared to last year, we gained so much more in other areas, the big one being my relationship with JB. As my husband says, it's not really something one can put words too. He tells me that to watch JB and I interacting, it's clear that we have developed a strong bond, a sense of trust, an understanding between us that goes beyond spoken words. JB will do things for me that he will not do for Tom , or anyone else for that matter. JB will not do things for Tom that he willingly will do for me. Yes, JB is definitely my horse, without a doubt , but then again, it didn't come without having to earn it. Endurance is so much more than the miles , indeed.