Contact information:

Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Email: jackereynolds@yahoo.com


April 18, 2010

So - the good - the bad - and what next?

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:

PACE
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.

EATING
Perhaps just a little sweet feed (say a cup) mixed in with her dry ration might get her interested in eating her morning feed.

BUILDING CARDIO

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.

Booting Issues

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.

RIDER ISSUES

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.

5 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your completion!

    From your earlier post, it sounds as though she still needs to start at the back, or behind someone who is riding at your pace a bit in front of you. It sounds as though your mare wasted a fair amount of energy trying to get ahead. This is very frustrating for the rider and can be detrimental to the horse's health.

    Its seems as though you had some positive things happen, too. That's good. Learning to drink is a good thing, being safe on blacktop is also good.

    Of my more than 80 starts (nearly all 50's or longer), I ALWAYS try to start out in the position that will keep my horse the MOST relaxed at the start. For some, that's the very front (although none that I've ever ridden). For others, it's leading another horse, or simply following another horse. And for still others, that means 15 minutes after everyone is COMPLETELY out of site.

    If they start calmly, they're more likely to continue that way. Although, every horse is different and for some, nothing works. My last mare was always about fast and faster. And that was at 20 years old! So, you do the best with what you've got, but work to try and find what makes that particular horse the happiest.

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  2. http://pdemott.smugmug.com/Endurance-Competitive-Trail/Chicken-Chase-AERC-Endurance/11888671_D79ku#841198752_qHHiq

    Photos of Chicken Chase are online now. I see EG at #15. Looking good!

    I'm on #77, 78 is Laura and Stormy and the Chestnut behind her came in first or second. Then I am #132 and Stormy with Laura better on #133. Isn't Shazam cute with those pricked up ears!!

    Michelle Detmer

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  3. congratulations!!!! Just getting cuaght up with everyone's blogs from the weekend. I need to go over and read your ride story now.

    I'm so proud of you both!

    Farley doesn't eat her breakfast ration either. In fact, she doesn't eat beetpulp at all at rides, just lots and lots of hay. I'm experiementing with a complete feed that can be in a mash that she seems to really really liek to see if I have more luck with that.

    As far as the top 10 completion.....My motto is to ride the horse you have for the day. Sometimes that means top 10, sometimes that means bottom 10. I have never "raced" for top 10, but it has happened. Heck, I WON the first LD we did!!!!!! Completely by accident. I just rode and that's where we ended up (and we were actually going quite slow - I think everyone else must have gotten lost or seomthing).

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  4. Starting at the front with her has negatives and positives.

    The negative is the fight for control while I "get rid of" the front runners, meaning let them go on and get the heck out of my way. Once that is over, she will keep a good trotting pace along the way and have very few issues unless a rider passes, which invariably some will, then we are pulling pulling pulling again. She wastes boo coo energy doing that. If she had a horse in front of her, even a buddy horse, it is the same evil scenerio.

    The good thing, was once we found our little pocket, we were able to hold our position pretty well. We started out as about number five, and finished as number seven. In a faster pack we'd have lost many more positions. So it was just doing what we do, kept us where we were in this case.

    Starting out dead last we spend all day playing leap frog and I HATE THAT. Phebes just can't follow because she out strides the horse in front, then gets agitated wanting to pass. If we pass, she doesn't want that horse tailing her. ???

    So alone, nobody in view in front, and nobody in hearing range behind is our HAPPY PLACE. (But I was sure happy for the other riders on the blacktop, it really helped).

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  5. That may be the difference - when I start at the back, no one passes me - I'm the one doing all the passing, which is what I like. I HATE playing leap frog! So it makes sense that if you start at the back and that's what happens, that you try to avoid it.

    LOL. Farley doesn't like people behind her either. It's more motivating to have someone behind than ahead! If she hears someone she'll speed up. I'm sure everyone thinks I'm trying to beat them, but really it's just my horse wanting to stay in her bubble!

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