Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Conditioning efforts for the Wildebeast

In between various goings-on , mostly traveling for work, family stuff and whatever else that seems to always creep into my schedule keeping me from riding as much as I want, I have managed to sneak in a few rides on my furry Wilde-beast of a mare over the last few weeks.

At this point, Maggie is so out of shape , it's pathetic. Plus she is hanging onto most of her winter coat still, which might be  good thing for her, as snow is predicted tonight. sigh.. (is spring ever going to commit?) but not good for my conditioning plans.

There is one (singular) ride in my area at the end of August that I would like to attend, Mt Spokane in Washington.

Yes,  one ride (other than the one in May that there would be no way to be ready for in time) in my area this year.. Even at that - it's still a 5 hour drive, which is closer than anything else. Sad.. isn't it??

That said, it's a  long ways off. In the meantime, I am just riding as much as I can, and slowly bring Maggie back into some sort of condition again. She is quite out of shape so this is going to take some work .She doesn't seem to come back into condition very quickly like the Arabians or TB's . It's a whole different set of plans to get this Morgan mare in shape. What she has going for her is that she is tough so even though she is out of shape, she can withstand long rides without any issues in the process of getting her into shape.  Of course, that makes it easy to override her because she just keeps going with no complaints.

Over the last few weeks we have probably done about 6 rides out on the trail and several sessions of  trotting around the perimeter of the pasture. The trails have gone through their regular progression of crappy footing to less crappy footing..At first, it was snowy footing, then it turned to rotten ice (the kind that is partially slippery and partially mushy), then mud. Now it's mostly dry with spots of hard gravel interspersed with mud and puddles depending on where we go.  Adding to that, the state land where I do most of my riding has continued with it's logging operations over the winter so lots of huge mud puddles created by heavy equipment tearing through the areas and wide skidder tracks now replace what used to be nice soft single track trails..

I didn't take my GPS for any of these first few  rides (except for this past Saturday)  but we probably averaged 5-7 miles each time . We didn't do much more than walking because of the footing. Neither horse has shoes on yet  Nonetheless, my little out of shape Morgan mare got a decent work out  on those first few rides. Never once did she act tired.. she gladly would have kept marching on.

This past Saturday I wanted to do a real concerted effort "condition" ride . Tom got shoes on both Brego and Maggie so we didn't need to worry about getting anyone foot sore.  I finally dug out my GPS. That took a good half hour of hunting. Once I found it, then I had to find batteries that actually worked which was another treasure hunt. Since I  have not bothered to use this little gadget in two years ( has it been that long?), I had to relearn how to use the darn thing.

While I waited for Tom to get ready, I took to the back yard and started pressing buttons, and wandering around aimlessly to see if I could press the right button to get to the right screen that I needed.  My GPS is a  Garmin Etrex and while it's a  pretty simple model  compared to several  other models out there  today, it has alot more functionality than I have bothered to learn about.  I just always use the trip calculator function that gives me distance, speed, stopping time, fastest speed over the course of the trip, etc.

I don't get any fancier than that..

Once I figured out how to use it again, we were in business. We loaded up Brego and Mags and got to the trail head alot later than I wanted to. It was already 3:30 in the afternoon. I knew a 2-3 hour ride was going to be the most I would want to ride.  We ended up going for 3.5 half hours. We started out really slow because Maggie was feeling her oats for sure in spite of her poor fitness level. She wanted to get out and go , so the first 2 miles, we walked. Until she gave me a relaxed walk, I never even thought about a trot.

 Eventually she did settle in and I felt like I could ask for a trot and get something that wasn't out of control. We did short spurts of trotting but she gladly would have maintained her trotting in spite of her huffing and puffing like a steam engine. Did I mention the winter coat she is packing around still?? Heat dissipation isn't exactly ideal  for her right now! It was about 58 degrees out which doesn't feel overly warm to us,  but to an overweight Morgan with half of her full winter coat still attached, it was probably like a sauna. Poor thing.. and yet she just wanted to go.

At the end of the ride, my GPS recorded is 8.63 miles in 3.5 hours.. Certainly didn't set any speed records (not that we were trying) but it gave me a good idea of where she is at physically.  In the tank.... 

We have alot of work to do which in the endurance world, means Long Slow Distance. Boring but required.

If history proves anything, getting her fit enough for a LD is going to take some effort so that her recoveries are decent. Doing endurance on  "other" breeds just take a bit longer.

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