Well, I did it. I have officially entered my first real AERC ride! After 5+ years of planning and hoping, it doesn’t seem real.
I am trying not to overthink things, as that is my biggest flaw. I have created a basic conditioning plan, as well as strategies for managing J both before, during and after the ride. HE knows what he’s doing, but it has been over two years since his last competition, and I have never done this before.
Although I had originally planned my ride season alone, Ashley caught wind of things and is planning to accompany us on Thunder. I am truly excited for the company, but just a tad apprehensive as well. My main concern is that Justice is so much bigger and faster than 13.1h Thunder. I worry about us possibly dragging Thunder along at a pace that is too rapid for the little guy. At the same time, I really don’t want to be holding J back the entire ride. Ashley and I will definitely have to discuss strategy and how to best manage our individual horses. Fortunately, we are both planning on attending an intro ride prior to March, so we should have a chance to iron things out then.
As I mentioned, I am the analytical type and also an overthinker. As such, I decided to pull up Justice’s ride history yesterday. I had looked over it a few times, but had never studied it closely before. Now that I did, I noticed something interesting. M meticulously avoided summer rides in warmer climates, instead choosing to take him to events in northern Ohio or Maine (and even one in Michigan!) Old Dominion’s No Frills appeared almost every year, as did Fort Valley, but the OD June ride appeared only once on his record. Even odder – of Justice’s four pulls, 3 were due to lameness and occurred basically within the last year of competition (between 10/2013 and 11/2014 – the 4th was an over time in 2011). This immediately sent up some red flags.
First, her choice of rides during the summer months acknowledged his heat intolerance (OR this might be just a Morgan thing in general!) Meaning if Justice and I are to be successful here in the South we are going to have to take drastic measures. As I mentioned, M is a pro. She has been doing this for over 30 years, and I am not naïve enough to think I can do better. I can only do the best I can for the horse I have now.
Additionally it seems odd to me that J’s lameness appeared so suddenly during his last season of competition (including on his very last ride). I always thought it was strange that it took M four years and 1500+ miles to decide that he was too much for her. Now I can’t help but wonder if there was something else as well. I guess only time will tell.
Meanwhile I have a lot of riding to do. Justice has been languishing for 2 years now – it is time to put him back to work!