It is indeed fortunate that horses become fit much quicker and easier than people. As much as I would like to be riding 3-4x a week, it has been much closer to twice a week instead. A few weeks ago I was reviewing posts in one of the Facebook endurance groups when I came across a conditioning program for the person who can only ride one day a week. With a little bit of tweaking, I think it should work out just fine for us.
On New Year’s Eve, my sister joined me for an early morning ride. It was freezing cold – with temps in the 20’s when we met up at SStables. I loaded Pokey and we picked up Justice from CS before heading to NE Park. Justice loaded and trailered like he’d been doing it forever, while Pokey was a nervous wreck! Due to the cold, my phone kept dying and I wasn’t able to get a true Endomondo reading but C was able to use iphone health app to determine we rode approximately 6.5(ish) miles, at a speed somewhere between 3 and 3.8mph. Justice walks so fast that Pokey had to jig to catch him, but whenever we trotted Pokey (surprisingly) had no trouble keeping up.
I found I really enjoyed moving out on Pokey, more so than Justice. Pokey isn’t the most careful horse on earth, but compared to J he is surefooted as a mountain goat. He is much more balanced in general and didn’t have the same problems with slipping/tripping that Justice does. At any rate it was nice to be able to get him out for a change!
On New Year’s Day, I was unable to ride due to family obligations but today (the 2nd) I was determined to ride again. On Thursday I will be taking the trailer to have a few rusty spots welded and I’m as of yet uncertain when I will get it back. So my goal was to do my weekly trailering out today, and covering 8 miles in 1.5 hours.
However the weather was not in our favor. It rained lightly all day, with temperatures never rising above 47 degrees. I am nothing if not stubborn, so I loaded J and we headed to NE anyway.
However, once tacked up, we discovered the trails were so wet and slick that moving out any faster than a walk was all but impossible – save for a few choice spots where the ground was level (there aren’t many of those!) Everywhere else J slipped and skidded like crazy.
In the end we covered 4.45 miles, at an average pace of 3.3mph.
Because we were unable to really move out, I stopped a couple of times and practiced make-believe NATRC obstacles with Justice. For instance we backed around a tree, practiced leg yielding and turns on the forehand, and I attempted to get him to stop over a log and sidepass to the other side of the trail (the last was an epic fail – he was completely confused as to what I was asking, and I called it quits because I was admittedly just as puzzled as to how I needed to communicate it to him). Every time he completed an “obstacle” successfully I would reward him with a treat. I may be turning my boy into a cookie monster, but he seriously learns faster this way than any other (I forsee us taking up clicker training in the near future!)
Speaking of trail obstacles, I learned today that the NATRC is offering free membership again for 2017. This is quite possibly too good an offer to pass up. In fact, I first became interested in endurance riding while following the journal of a young NATRC rider (at the time I wasn’t aware of the differences in CTRs and AERC endurance “races”). I doubt I will get too serious about CTRs—I’ve heard NATRC referred to as the “Pony Club” of trail riders, and I honestly hate having too many rules. Still, it might be fun to try something new and different. And I think J would excel!