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

September 9, 2010

Tweaking the miles upward

Phebes and I have done very well of late with rating our speed (meaning steady, but slow). I know the only way that I'm going to be able to make that happen for us at a ride is to start at the very back like we did at Spook Run last year, and keep an empty pocket to ride in even if I have to stop on trail to let the traffic clear away. But right now I'm very happy with her stellarly turtle-like pace. She is comfortable, and I am comfortable. This seems a much better place to build from if I can keep it glued together when all other factors come into play. We did encounter other riders at the park last weekend, and she was okay with that since we were passing them (those horses were walking, where as we were trotting). I figure the worst thing we can have happen is to draft somebody as that is definitely when she gets her brain out of gear and the lovely ride unravels (so we are training with some our speed or by ourselves). We have a game plan (Phebes doesn't know about it, but we DO have a plan, I'm pretty sure what Phebe's opinion would be about the plan).

Last weekend was the longest training ride we have ever done at 24 miles or so, at least with half of it a solo ride. Previously our training distance rarely exceeded 15 miles at a session. I'm a little uncomfortable with these longer (over 20 mile) conditioning rides because unlike at an actual event, you do not have on site veterinary back up if you suddenly encounter a problem. We are being careful. My very long term goal is to eventually get her so comfortable with the 30 mile distance that she is successfully able to ride two in a weekend. Once back to back 30's are comfortable, maybe....a 50 (I'm not holding my breath on that one, but one can dream). I have to have a much better horse than I'm seeing right now if ever I'm to do that. I keep picking up the puzzle, turning it around and around, yet I'm stepping outside my rhelm of actual experience now, so far it is working out mostly okay, but I'm a worrier by nature. Some issues remain, but I think I'll get those worked out (less electrolytes, better appetite, rating, and pushing out her endurance). I know I've read, and heard that you don't have to ride 25 miles to do a 25 mile ride, or 30 to do a 30. When we've went to a LD ride in each and every instance Phebes did not maintain her go throughout the ride. She falters at mile 20-25 and those last 5 miles to 30 scare me just a little bit when you begin having to encourage forward movement. Not dead dog beat, still able to pick up a trot, but more or less over it on the whole. It has gradually improved over the rides we've completed, but still in my mind a tired horse by the end. A horse fit to continue? Yes, or we wouldn't have completed. But my ultimate goal for a distance horse is "looks like they could do it again." I've seen a few of those at endurance rides (yes, I've seen other tired horses at rides besides my own) I want to know how to get my horse to that fabulous and fit place, from where we are right now, and how to stretch that LSD slowly up to longer distances.

Here are random thoughts on a loosely scribed game plan for the next 4 weeks anyway...and I'd love to hear other's comments. Believe it or not, I DO ROLL THEM AROUND in my brain and try to take what is useful to heart. Would be great for some input from others on Session # 1 (fill in the blank). Keeping in mind the goal of stretching her distance (with no thought to any kind of speed, we are averaging 4-5.5 mph).

#1. Back to back training days (____ miles X's 2 days in a row) once every 7-10 days.
#2. Hill sessions (1/2 mile hill sessions X 6 repetitions)once weekly.
#3. 1 hour sessions twice weekly just to keep her loosened up.
#4. Rest days X 3 each week (life and work ladies...)

Would it be reasonably safe to approach the #1 training session in this manner if she's eating, drinking, and continues to rate? She's fit, we've just taken a different approach.

week 1 15/15
week 2 15/20
week 3 15/25
week 4 15/30

Currently things are going pretty well overall, and know I won't attempt back to back training unless the elyte/appetite issue has been worked out first. What's been suggested and done in the past hasn't necessarily worked, so tweak we will. There is a saying that goes "If you don't want what you've always had, quit doing what you've always done." ~E.G.


  1. You should look into joining Apex or asking any good qualified endurance consultant. Or take lessons or go to clinics.

    And when you do get good advise (for free)you give a bunch of excuses as to why that doesn't apply to you.

  2. EG-

    I have followed your blog for a while but have only been a "lurker" so far. I don't want to sound terrible, but it sounds like you AND your mare a really struggling to get a leghold in this sport. Maybe little Phebes is not cut out for endurance? I know that sounds a little harsh, but you may be fighting an uphill battle with her. Phebes may be happier doing trail riding, at least for now. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole may be a frustrating struggle you may not be able to win, and even if you did, at what cost and for how long?

    I love your little mare, but honestly, it shouldn't be this hard. You've done a wonderful job working with her, I just worry she may not be cut out for the sport.

    Just my two cents.


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  4. MF
    I have indeed worked very hard with my mare, and I do love my horse a lot. Some mistakes were made early on (my mistakes, no excuses there as the horse doesn't sign up for the job). My blog is a journal of the journey... I don't find your opinion harsh. You are probably a veteran rider who knows plenty.

    We did a 24 mile ride Sunday that was beautifully and slowly paced after working on only that for the humid months of July/August and I stepped out of the saddle Sunday after 24 miles with a 55 bmp pulse even though we trotted the last little piece in. I ask for opinions knowing now that not all advice is good advice, and what works for one horse may not work for mine. I have some fears about stretching out her LSD, it is new territory
    Has it been hard? Yes, this distance riding thing has been very difficult for me.
    But you know what? I love this sport. Maybe a win for me will be learning to do it well twice a year, or doing it well once a year. Or maybe doing it well once ever. Maybe we will never make it to 50 miles, but maybe we can eventually do multi slow 25's and if asking the stupid question helps me get there, I'm not to proud to ask it.

    We've had only four actual trys at this thing.

    Our ride History:
    2009 Season Chicken Chase Pioneer on Lil Bit of Magic
    04/18/2009 25 miles 23rd place time: 03:52:01 A really bad first ride where I started midpack (on the advice of seasoned riders ) in a crush of 50 horses.

    Spook Run on Lil Bit of Magic
    10/24/2009 30 miles 13th place time: 04:55:00 Where things went very well. Our best of the four attempts.

    2010 Season Chicken Chase Pioneer I, II, & III on Lil Bit of Magic
    04/16/2010 30 miles 7th place time: 05:07:00
    Where we rode slower still...she ate, she drank, but pulled against me the first half and used "more" of herself than she needed too.

    Top of the Rock I & II on Lil Bit of Magic
    05/28/2010 25 miles pulled:Rider Option Where I once again tried to start farther up in front, and it unraveled her, I got lost, and it was just a bad decision. I honestly would have ridden the next day happily if other circumstances had not called me home. My daughter was hospitalized so I left the ride immediately after I rider optioned, got my horse home, and headed there, honestly that is a higher priority than distance riding.

    Have we struggled at this sport? Yes, we really have. Isn't that why the sport is called endurance? Is the sport really that "easy" for everyone? Should one quit just because it is hard,after four starts?

    How many endurance horses prove themselves in four rides? Does anyone else remember those first handful of rides? Has anyone's horse gone lame? Had a metabolic issue? I can think of two people that I respect that have had their horses tye up this year, I bet they aren't alone. Has anyone been pulled by the vet? Have some horses not mentally matured until a few years into the sport? Do I just need to quit? How many endurance riders master distance riding in five attempts? (I just figured out trail ribbons... maybe...I think).

    MF I will take your opinion under consideration and hold it close to my heart, as I feel it was offered up in an honest and caring manner. If I determine firmly in my mind that she can't do it after a full ride season, we will find us another job, and Endurance Granny might become Cutting Horse Granny...or Reining Horse Granny...or Parade Horse Granny...but nobody will truly say that me and my little mare didn't give it an honest try.

    Anonmymous person, I'm sure your intent to was to be hurtful, though your reasoning mystifies me. Consider your job well done.

    Thanks. ~E.G.

  5. One thing about this blog, it is just what it is -- a BLOG. Very frank and telling it just as it happens, good, bad, smart, stupid etc. Telling more than I would but then it is not my blog. No one is forced to read nor comment. I understand the second post; however, the first post has the smell of an ego problem. What is "Good Advice"? Hmmm.... Ego knows. So... Ego. If you have enought money, that will solve problems? But if you do not, then do not be so stupid as to make excuses for something free. Does that about sum it up?
    One thing I notice about horse sports is that to get somewhere or be someone it takes time and money. And sometimes around here both are in short supply.
    Yeah, I am a hill-jack so I am not sure what Apex is. Did I just make an excuse? So ego... since you like four letter words I will close with kiss my ARSE.


  6. Just an FYI


    It is also in North Carolina/ Florida.

    I'd might have a little bit of a drive there weekly from southeastern Indiana (but there go those pesky excuses). I had something closer, and more affordable in mind. Like some one day or three day horsemanship clinics... ~E.G.