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

April 3, 2010

Ride Strategy

So I've been fretting over ride strategy. In doing that my long suffering endurance granny husband said to turn it over and look at my ride goals first. ( are good for something :)


Nicole and I have done some training together. The girls get along pretty well. Phebes is happy as long as Phebes is in front. If Phebes is behind all manner of annoying and exhausting (to me) behaviors set in. I talked with Nicole about the importance of Riding Your Own Ride. That if we start together (and we may or may not depending on the choice of ride day) that all manner of things can happen that we won't continue on together. Arabee pulses down much faster than Phebes on our training rides and I may need to keep Phebes in the hold longer than she will need to keep Arabee. If Phebes is acting up, and not pacing right I might just have to let all the pretty horses disappear to get an alone pocket on the trail. Nicole might get halfway through and decide to call it a training ride. Phebes might get pulled at the halfway because she won't eat or drink. So I stressed that first and foremost each of us needs to do the best thing for our horse own rider team on ride day. Nicole is good with that, and if things click we'll hang together, if Phebes is a butt that day, we'll part ways and wish each other well in our own adventure. Wish you all could meet Nicole and Arabee. I've had so much fun riding with them the past few weeks.

Goal #2: You can lead a horse to water but you can't make her drink.

I discovered on my last ride with Nicole & Arabee what may have been yet another light bulb moment. On the training trail I waste copious amounts of time stopping at water holes to offer Phebes the opportunity to drink. This generally results in her dropping her head, bobbing her head up and down at various things, me feeling "anxious" when she won't drink, and finally exasperation and moving on down the trail. This went on last week for about ten miles or so. Then we started cantering intervals along a flat logging road, when all of a sudden Phebes hits the brakes and plows her head into a mud puddle and really tanks down some water. So I guess if she is READY TO DRINK she's going to let me know. It may be that I won't be able to get her drinking in the first hour or two on trail. I'll always stop if she indicates she wants water, but I'm not going to waste thirty minutes of ride time messing around at the water holes anymore. I'm going to go on faith that she has the sense to know when she wants water.

Goal #3: Rate, rate, rate...

Trot parts of the hills, trot or intermittent canter the flats (of which there are darn few at Clark)if she needs a break from trotting, and walk the downhills. For the most part though I want to keep an easy sustained trot if I can get her nice slow trot on trail vs. the very forward trot she is currently using that is driving me to the brink of distraction. She wants to trot at over 11 mph so almost all of my rides between now and CC will focus on trying to get a decent trot ( 6-8 mph).

Goal# 4: Eating, drinking, peeing, pooping & moving freely.

Stay at our hold as long as necessary to cool her down, calm her down, and get some water, grass, and e-lytes into horse. Human shall drink a V-8 at the hold, and stuff down some kind of food.

Goal# 5: To finish is to win.
I may never have a competitive horse. To finish Chicken Chase without metabolic issues would be "our win." Complete the ride. I'm not going to worry about time other than trying to meet the time deadline to complete.

Those are my goals (and hence, my strategy), and I'll be doing the best I can to stick with them. ~E.G.


  1. Ok, for the first time I've realized what you're talking about when you say "slow trot" and "fast trot." Her fast trot is 11+ mph? Really? I don't think Dixie can trot that fast - she kicks up to a rack or a slow canter. An 11 mph trot sounds pretty horrible; no wonder you're not happy about it.

    I totally agree about the water. I still make Dixie stop and look at the water, but I don't spaz out if she won't drink it. Surely she is smart enough to drink when she's thirsty.

  2. She actually can trot 13 mph before she breaks into a canter. It is like being on a pogo stick! The "happy" place trot where her pulse rate and my bottom feels good is right at 6 mph which will never win an endurance race, but can still get the job done if we throw in a canter on the flats now and then. I just can't seem to get her doing it on the trail...only in an arena setting.

  3. Goal #1: good for you that you had this conversation. It's a tough one, but I NEVER assume that the other person knows that "ride my own ride" is my motto and explain it to even ridicously experienced people!

    Goal #2: I don't usually worry about Farley not drinking until hours 2 or 3 (depending on weather conditions). she knows she must dip her nose in the trough to aknowledge it's existence, but once she's done that, then off we go.

    I do have a horse that takes care of herself (her weakness is lameness, not metabolics) so this is just definately what works for me - your mileage may vary.

    Goal 3:Sounds like a good plan. I think you are going to be just fine on time.

    goal 4: V.G. esp as you *might* be planning on elevating to 50's some day???? I always took ~ 1 hour at holds for LDs because I wanted her to get used to just chilling.

    Goal 5: Absolutely. funny how having some problems puts everything in perspective. I might toy with the idea of speed, but everytime I have a problem with a horse (like lameness) it lets me know that the only thing I REALLY care about is a healthy and happy horse. I don't care about anythjing else, including finishing rides.

  4. Your goals sound reasonable and achievable to me. Sounds like a good place to start - first complete the rides successfully with healthy horse and human. Then worry about speed later. Now you know just how much experience I've had so I'm just going on my intuition here. :-)