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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

January 9, 2009

My place in the pack and building strength as a rider.

The weather has been less than optimal this week and is looking like it will cancel out our Saturday ride. I've been thinking and reflecting on last weekends ride, disecting it as I always do and trying to find the weak spots so that I can build a better ride next time.

Phebes is forward. She has a very strong drive to run in front. However, if I can get her in a "pocket" I find that she is still forward, but without the pulling and fighting associated with riding in the pack (more than 2 other horses). No matter how many horses she has to be the front runner, but is less frantic about it as the group gets smaller. She does best with a single horse that is equally able to pace with her. She will still ask to be in front, but settle into a nice rhythm which is so much better for me to ride. I find she out strides most horses even though she is very small at 14.2 hands. If we are behind, this soon puts her up in the butt of the horse in front of her, which of course is very "rude", and we will soon be passing. Once around she goes into a power trot, and things settle down. PHebes in a pack of horses is just a nightmare to ride. She is pulling pulling pulling, breaking gait from a trot to a gallop, and she mentally melts down, and I physically wear out QUICKLY. So I have a two-fold problem to contend with. Where do I start on a ride to find her sweet spot, with no horses visually in front, and none scampering up behind her. How do I find a quiet middle of the pack pocket that is just us, or just us and one other horse? The second thing is how do I build myself up to handle 30 miles?

I can ride gait intervals of walk, trot, canter - walk (getting my wind back), trot, canter, repeatedly. Physically at this point I am the weak link in our horse and rider training process as I've built a horse that can go for 20 miles now, but I'm flagging at about the 10 mile mark. I know, it is pitiful that the horse is doing the work, and I'm wearing out. The big muscles in my legs start screaming and I feel like I can't catch my breath. One issue is cardio as my heart hammers along and I become more and more breathless. I should also make it known that I have osteoarthritis which I live with alright, and Fibromyalgia which is an immune disorder affecting the muscles and connective tissues of the body. I feel Fibromyalgia is at the root of part of my exhaustion and lack of cardio fitness is the rest of it. Now I'm not complaining, because there was a point in my life where I could barely get out of bed and muddle through the day, so I feel very blessed that I've been able to get as far as I have. I'm just wondering how I can increase my overall fitness between now and April? Do I need to ride the horse more to build up the muscle groups I'll be using? Or do I need to take to the ground and start hiking, or riding an exercise bike? Can I get "fit enough" between now and April? That gives me about.....ten or twelve weeks to pull out a miracle.

1 comment:

  1. Yet another comment!

    Exercise - I must admit that I'm a fairly healthy 24 year I'm not sure if this will work for you, but the number 1 exercise that I have done that seems to transfer DIRECTLY to riding is anything on an exercise ball. I feel like the same muscles are engaged. Even just sitting on it and raising your arms, lifting a leg etc. requires balence and moving each part of your body independantly of your balence, which is what riding is all about right? LOL