Saturday, May 26, 2012

How Do You Know?

So todays ride turned out to be longer and less wet than expected. I was on the trail by 9:30 am. Not another soul to be found . Squirrels , birds , wild flowers and a large Sand Hill Crane were our trail companions today until our way out. We met several bikers, and one set of hikers, a coworker of my husbands, of who's dog grabbed Maggie's tail , of who got lucky that Maggie missed (or did she) when she kicked out.. hmmm, that could have been bad as maggie didn't kick gently at all!  The weather held out and we even saw the sunshine several times . I was over dressed and ended up taking layers off half way through.Maggie did not want to settle in to any specific postable , easy to ride trot until we hit about 10 miles.
 Good grief, she can have the bounciest hardest to ride trot ever!  Today was one of those days when I begin thinking that Maggie is not a good fit for the sport because she is so incredibly hard to ride when she trots out. I am a pretty fit and  relatively strong legged, secure rider ,but miles of Maggie's trotting takes it out of me like no other horse I have experienced. My lower back and inner thighs just ache after riding her on days like today. It takes so much strength to not let myself slam into the saddle on the down stride,  and even more strength to keep from getting launched out of the saddle too high on the up stride. So, I stay off her back in two  point when we are on long flat stretches as she moves out. It's the best I know to do!
 As we were were making our second loop around Bowser Lake (mud hole really)  , we were at about the 10 mile point and her trot was becoming much nicer to ride, thankfully. I began to wonder, as fast as she likes to go, is she really enjoying this? Is her speed anxiety or just a desire to get down the trail, see the next place we are going?

I hear and read endurance riders comments about how their horse just loves to go down the trail. But, how do you know?

How do know they are enjoying it as much as you think they are? What is it that tells a rider that their horse is enjoying their job? After all, a horse's genetic make up is based on conserving energy (as a prey animal) , so that if a predator does show up , they can burst into speed and get away... these are ofcourse in relatively short distances. Asking a horse to go at speed mile after mile flies in the face of everything these beings were put on earth for.

Maggie is always alert, ears pricked as we go down the trail. She never pins her ears unless I am asking her to rate. She always willingly goes, but is that a sign that she is truly enjoying it? I don't really know.
So how do you know your horse is enjoying his/her job? As we clicked mile after mile on the GPS today, I coulnd't get this thought out of my head.

With all the recent rain,  we had several large  mud puddles to cross. If we were at a walk, she gladly walked through the puddles and normally at a trot , she will gladly plod through most of them as well, unless she can go around. Today, any time we met a puddle she wanted to jump it.. and  not just a hop over it. She was literally launching herself like she would to get over a jump. Normally, this isn't desirable trail behavior for a trail horse,  I know... but I will tell you, it was such a blast., I just let her. Besides, in thinking about keeping things interesting, maybe this would be a nice change for her. Endurance with a bit of trail jumping!!  So the three puddles we came across at a trot, I went with whatever she wanted to do, jump or not. She jumped all of them. Maybe I will start training her over fences..kinda got me thinking the jumping bug might have bitten....

I didn't have the HRM on her again. I was in such a rush to get out , assuming it was going to rain, that I left without it. I thought we did alot of trotting but looking at the time /distance specs, it doesn't seem like much of a pace to me. I thought we were alot faster ..guess not. .It's possible the Garmin is a bit off on but I would rather track mileage on the conservative side.

Here is what we did for todays' ride:( had a few long hard hills climbs today)

Overall Mileage: 15.5
Max speed 14.7 ( she cantered for a spell)
Moving time: 2 hrs , 47 mins
Moving average speed: 5.5
Stopped Time 9 mins, 21 sec
Overall  average speed: 5.3


CG said...

That seems like reasonable pace to me. I find that I tend to go slower at home, especially if I'm riding alone.

Since my horses tend to want to go a little faster at rides, I don't worry too much about how quickly I get the miles done at home. My new plan this year- hours in the saddle, not miles!

Funny you mention the jumping thing, ever since Cartman has started to get his canter together I keep thinking it would be really fun to do some jumping with him. The only thing that makes me hesitant is his hatred of the snaffle bit. Do you think you could start a horse over fences using the Myler shanked bit? I just don't know.

Jonna said...

riding slower at home has always been the approach I have tried to take, but it bit in the behind two years ago at Maggie's first ride. We came in really late in the game Our first half of the loop was alot of hills and it really slowed us down, plus we took a wrong turn and got off track for about 45 mins. We made up time on the last half and had an hour or so to spare. The ride we are preparing for has a ton of hills so our focus has been sprinting and hills to help her HRM recoveries, in the hopes that at the ride, the elevation doesn't eat her lunch in the first half..

Hmm, spent alot of years jumping but never used anything other than a snaffle. Often times, at the upper levels, it's not uncommon to have a horse going in a double bridle, with the bradoon and weymouth bits. In cross country I have seen gags used but I don't care for them. I am not even sure if they are legal in competition anymore. Also, its not uncommon to see the Baucher bit in cross country as well. If your not planning on going into competition , and you have good hands, I don't see the harm in trying it. If it's not working, change it.. Cartman looks like he would absolutely sail over fences!!

All Who Wander said...

Stopped Time 9 mins, 21 sec

That right there will shoot your average in the head. I've been watching my stops trying to keep them short as it just nails you if you are trying to maintain a good average pace.

But then, we have to stop sometimes right?


~ E.G.

Jonna said...

Yep, E.G.. that's what gets us... your right... I will join you in the face plant because sometimes one just has to stop !