I love long weekends but I usually come out of them totally exhausted because I crammed so many things into the schedule. This past weekend was no different. Now, I am feeling the effects of just that. I guess the conditioning season has officially started for me, but I am afraid to even say it, lest there be a snow storm to stop the progress I feel as thought I am making. (knock on wood) Compared to the last two years, I am getting riding time in way earlier than usual.
First order of business; ....News to share
The weekend started off busy with non-riding activities. The distance riders group I am a member of, Hooves and Company, has started the planning process for the July endurance ride that will be held in this area. Guess who is part of that planning process? We’re a small group so it takes all of us to get things accomplished. Since I plan to ride both days, my contribution will be in pre planning instead of volunteering this year! The ride is on the AERC website as Hooves & Company for the NW region. CHECK IT OUT! The location is new for the ride this year and if you haven’t ever been to this area for an endurance ride, consider putting this one on your ride calendar. It’s July 17th and 18th. The scenery, trails and camping accommodations are going to be fantastic. If you want more info, email me. I will be glad to tell you what I know, which at this point, isn’t much but stay tuned!! I should be getting some first hand knowledge over the next several weeks. Here’s the scoop; We were granted permission to use a large guest/cattle ranch west of town, which is surrounded by National Forest. This is new territory from where we have held the endurance races in the past. Given the new territory, Hooves and Company members have lot of new trail to identify. Thank goodness for Google Earth, GPS and nice ranch owners!.
Back to the riding part of the weekend;
Riding was first on the list for Sunday. I wanted to get both JB and Maggie out for some miles. Tom, also getting the spring riding itch, decided to come along for a ride when I took Maggie out. I was happy to have the support and company of him and Cassidy. Maggie started out a little strong and ramped up but listened well when I asked her to check back. Of course, being young, she had to be reminded frequently for the first 2 miles. After that, she seemed to catch on and realize we didn’t need to hurry. She only argued with me once when I asked her to stop and wait for a truck to come by. Her argument was a shake of her head. For the rest of the ride, she settled into a nice flat footed steady walk, on a loose rein! This mare definitely has some “smoke” so my focus with her is keeping things quiet and relaxed. She has a real knack for going from 0-60 in nothing flat! Tom tells me it’s pretty common in these little Lippitt Morgan’s. I guess he’d be the expert having raised and trained them for as many years as he did. She is surprisingly very responsive to half halts and is responding well when I ask her to “chew the bit” down and travel long and low. Overall, I think we are off to a great start.
Focus area with her:
Be choosy about who I ride with, when I ride her . No fast rides! No nervous riders!
Continue to keep the rides quiet and easy
Exposure to new things to help build her confidence
Do not get caught up in enjoying her speed!!! (We’ll save that for later)
One thing that stands out to me about Maggie is that she has such a willingness to go, and keep going, that I will have to be careful about distance. Her strength, both mental and physical, can be deceiving on how tired she truly might be. We went 6 slow easy miles with her felt like a good starting point for her fitness level. I will keep her between 5-8 mile rides over the next several weeks and pay careful attention on her recovery. As soon as my arena is snow free, we’ll be back at working on basics. She is still very green so basic training will take precedence over distance work. If all goes well, I hope to have her ready for her first limited distance at the July ride. Our plan is to get the turtle award.
By the time I finished with Maggie, grabbed a snack, rehydrated and got my self geared up to go back out and do it again, the day was getting away from me. I saddled and booted JB in a big hurry. We only went 3.5 miles. I would be meeting a friend the next day for a longer ride so I wasn’t too concerned about mileage. I just wanted to get him out to stretch his legs a bit. My ride on him had me working full time to keep him between the “navigational lines”. He wanted to look everywhere but straight ahead and we looked like a drunken sailor as we wandered back and forth along the road. After about a mile and a half of this ever so fun exercise in patience (on my part) he finally settled in and started listening. He has developed a nice rhythmic walk. The trot however is a different story these days. A year ago, I was peddling him along, fighting for forward every step of the way. Looking back, I know this had to do with how his feet were feeling and that he was also stallion. While he still gets a bit concerned about who were leaving and often tries to look behind us, the need for peddling has long since gone away. JB has found his big horse trot and Sunday’s ride had us cruising along pretty nicely. As much of a thrill it is to ride him in this big trot (which is amazingly smooth) it is early in the season and I don’t want any injuries!!
Monday’s ride we completed 6 miles of mostly trot work. Other than his melt down with having to get by a grain truck filling up at the silos, and the noise and sight of the auger, he was a real trooper. I worked on switching from leading to following with Debbie and her horse and maintaining a steady pace.
Focus areas for JB:
Develop various speeds within the trot
RATING, RATING, RATING ( if you had asked me a year ago about having to do this with him, I would have laughed at you)
That’s all folks.. now back to work…