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.

C on Justice! She always rides him if she can. She has stated before that he is her favorite of my 3 horses.

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!

I look like the Michelin man in all my layers! (That coat is warm tho!)

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.

Additionally, the majority of trails were inaccessible as the gate to the river crossing was closed (I am told they close it at times when they feel the water is too high and/or it might be unsafe).

In the end we covered 4.45 miles, at an average pace of 3.3mph.

The river may be picturesque but it smelled horrible!
Apparently someone decided to construct a makeshift hut beside the horse trail lol

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!