Negatory there rabbit: Let's start with the bad.
#1. She had herself a little hissy fit melt-down at the start. (Crow-hopping, half-heart bucking).
#2. She insisted on power trotting, and pulled, pulled, pulled to go faster.
#3. Everytime the 50 milers would come up behind us, I'd let them on around, and it was back to #1, and #2.
#4. She did not eat her breakfast feed ration.
#5. Phebes was like a wild alligator when I had to pull her hind boot, riders swishing past, and her wanting to race after them.
#6. At the vet in she attempted to rear up slightly and spun when the vet tried to touch her (not only embarrassing as heck, but dangerous).
#7. We had a few rubs from the gaiters on her boots. Not horrible, but I want zero rubs, those things are ouchy.
#8. About four miles from the finish, Phebes was done, over it, kapoot, energy gone.
You are catching on Phebes: The good.
#1. She improved in drinking considerably. The second loop she started really tanking up. She drank from creeks, mud puddles, and a boggy frog pond.
#2. She really didn't fight me too long on breaking gait into the canter. A verbal correction would get her back into the trot most of the time.
#3. No real metabolic issues. Hydration was good, no skin tenting, she had reasonable gut sounds (B vs. C last time).
#4. Phebes completed with a slightly slower average time than before (I see that as good), and placed a little higher even though she went slower overall.
#5. She performed better on the black top road than anticipated (having other riders in front helped).
#6. No balking on the trail, no spooking on the trail, she was forward, and willing to move out without the anchor of a horse, and willing to move out and leave a horse behind.
#7. She showed excellent trail savy. She took her downhills sanely but speedy, she self corrected and walked through the deep sticky mud, and just took care of where she put her feet. Phebes was STRONG on her uphills.
#8. Phebes took her electrolytes like a trooper, we did half doses the night before, the morning of, and at the halfway. The electrolytes made a huge difference on her condition overall in my opinion.
So my thoughts on what's next:
I actually had a good friend express concern about Phebes placement. Her thinking was that Phebes should have been going slow. She power trotted, broke gait a couple of times and was corrected, pulled like hell and wasted A LOT OF ENERGY, walked all the downhills. Her average speed was about 6 mph which is not exactly booking it. Probably the only reason she placed in the top ten was THIS WAS THE FIRST RIDE OF THE YEAR, and most of the horses she was competing against were just coming back into training. Phebes has been doing hill intervals for weeks, not huge hills, but hard enough for training. The front runners had been training, were riding fast and I made a point to let them just move out of our radar at the start. This gave Phebes the empty pocket she needed to stay at least moderately sane through the ride. I will continue trying to work with her to get the trot slowed down to a more tolerable pace.
Perhaps just a little sweet feed (say a cup) mixed in with her dry ration might get her interested in eating her morning feed.
We will start doing short cantering intervals, and attempt to stretch those sessions out a littel farther each time. I still do not plan to use that gait at competition, but want to utilize it to build up her stamina, cardio, and respiratory system. I hope to map out a ten mile course with mostly rolling to flat terrain to work on. A gravel road will be fine. We have about five weeks to work on these areas before Top of the Rock.
I will have to come up with a fix for her booting. Look into some kind of wraps...something. See what Easycare has on their site. The rub was at the very top of where the gaiter attaches on the outside of the upper pastern on the left, and the inside on the right. Each was about the size of my little fingernail, but would have to have been as painful and distracting as the rub on my leg that was about to drive me NUTS. If this doesn't work out....GOOBER GLUE for the shells, then no worries over rubs. She can run with her hinds bare. All of our training is completely bare, but we don't train on blacktop or gravel and we invariably meet up with those on a ride.
The saddle skirt rubbing is a pain - literally. We will have to look into a sheepskin cover and see if that will fix it. If not, it will be one long and hard summer. I may also try getting some of the really huge bandaids and tape that area on both sides to see if the extra protection would help.
Hydration was an issue for me because I ran out of water on the second 19 mile loop. I had 2 bottles of water, and one bottle of Gatorade with me for the second half. Ended up pouring both bottles of water over Phebes to help her cool down. In retrospect, creek sponging would have made better sense, as I'd have stayed hydrated. We just had a good five mile gap with no water source and my girl was hot. So empty the water on her I did.
So! I'm very proud of my little mare. Can't describe to you all how hard that course is. If any of you have ridden at the South Fork, I had a rider who did quite well there tell me that this course is HARDER by far. She also faced the warmest day we've had yet for 2010, and hot weather is not her strong point. Doug balanced her hooves last night, and checked them for chips, signs of injury, and she looked really good, even the hinds that went bare the second half over miles of gravel road. She is going to have a week off, then we hit the conditioning trail again. ~E.G.
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association