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

March 8, 2009

How much base is enough?

When starting a horse into Limited Distance how much long slow distance is necessary before you can begin adding real speed? Phebes hit 400 training miles since I've started logging them yesterday. I don't want to do too much too soon, but Phebes is a horse that wants to go. When will it be safe to do this, and how long does it take to build enough stamina to be competitive at Limited Distance (assuming you have an athletic horse)?



  1. Hope you get some answers.

    If I were going to do speed on a new endurance horse it would probably be after a pretty good base which would include a certain amount of competition mileage plus training mileage and also probably a certain time period, a year or two maybe three of consistent riding and building up.

    It all depends on the horse (how old they are, etc.) and how things go.

    Best advice I can give is for you to just check and see how Phebes is recovering after a training ride - check legs after riding, that night and next day. Add speed just a little at a time and see how she does. What one person considers speed or fast is totally different from somebody else.

    First do at least some LD rides conservatively. If Phebes can handle that and learns to listen and do what you want, recovers well and looks good post ride then add speed. The biggest mistake people make is going fast too soon because the horse can, or wants to - if the horse is that qualified then it'll be able to still do it later on but will be more ready to do it without as much risk of an injury or metabolic problem.

    How many minutes have you worked up to keeping her heart rate over 100 at a trot?

  2. Karen, you are correct that in speed for me will not necessarily be speed for someone else. I'm thinking in terms of 8-9 mph on the flats with an average speed of 7.8 mph overall. If she canters on the flats is that too much for a first year horse? I don't have an onboard moniter, but check her recovery when we come in. She is pulsing down in 2-10 minutes depending on the work load.

    I have one more training ride at Henryville coming up, and then my plan over the next few weeks is to just try and work at rating her down to the trot. She only wants to canter and seems more balanced and happy there, but my concern is the use of all those big muscles and should we be cantering at all?

    This weekend she slow cantered the first ten miles. I attempted to rate her down to a trot, but she seemed more comfortable and relaxed at the canter. She isn't running away and she will stop when I ask her to, she just does not want to stay in a sustained trot.

    I have no ambitions of "winning" on this young horse, but would like to have a good "finish". She has about a nine month base on her at this point and that is saddle training to now.

    Her recovery times have been pretty good. Usually she pulses down by the time I can get the handheld monitor out and put it on her. Her cap refill was excellent this weekend. Her first pulse recovery was a little slow, but it was the first really warm day of the year, and she was still saddled. Recovery was ten minutes. We had a forty-five minute break. Our second leg of the training ride was extreme hills and a little shorter distance
    She pulsed down as soon as I got the saddle off that time.
    It has been very difficult to sort out what is acceptable for a young horse as far as speed goes, though I might be better to ask about her rate of speed overall average? So is 7-9 mph average too fast for a first year horse that is pulsing down?

  3. I can't really answer your question without knowing your training conditions and how much elevation you are doing.

    In the country I train in, 7 to 9 mph average would give you enough speed to win the Tevis. I think 5-6 is more reasonable for a first year or two horse especially if you are including time to warm up and cool down.

    For my horses recoveries during training, I always try for two minutes or less, down to 60.

    Keep working on getting her to settle in at a trot, or you'll have a real handful at a ride when she wants to canter and expects that you'll let her, and she's amped up quite a bit more than usual.

    When is your first AERC ride?

  4. Karen,

    Our first AERC LD is April 17, 18, or 19. Haven't decided which day to ride yet. Initially was going to do two days, but have since reconsidered as it will be her first time out, and only my second ever. Our training ground here at home is rolling hills in the ohio river valley. My away training area is the actual course in the Clark State Forest that though not moutainous is the toughest trail in this region, a lot of big hills to pull up and down. Our time on the six mile hilly stretch was considerably slower than the 10 mile loop which was mostly flat to slightly rolling which was fast.

    I'm training back at Clark next weekend to attempt a pre-ride of 25 and see what her recovery times are like. It was in the mid to upper seventies this past Saturday and we still have hair coats on these horses. This factored into her slower recovery I'm sure since she has trained this winter in 20-36 degree temperatures.

    Saturday the temperatures should be back into the normal range of 50 degrees, much better training temp for the hair coat.

    Once we have Saturday under out belt and have determined that she "can" complete a 25 on that course within the 6 hour time frame (including holds), I will be backing down her mileage and working on sustained trotting for the next 4 weeks. Phebes extended trot is 7-9 mph, not much different than her canter. Maybe if I "work" at getting it down to 6-7 mph it will work out.

    Hoping Nicole is better and able to ride soon as her mare rates very well with mine.

    I'm so excited to be this close with this horse to actually doing it!