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

September 12, 2010

An Improvement

I switched Phebes over to about 1/5 the dosage of electrolyte today, with a little blackstrap molasses, chased down by a bottle of water. Of course she had eaten her breakfast and tanked up on water prior to leaving the house. Beautiful fall day, in the upper 70's, the leaves crunching under hoof, the sky painted azure with huge fluffy clouds. After tap, tap, tapping softly with the crop to get her started on the trail head we were off at a pitty pat trot, bringing up soft little puffs of dust with each hoof fall.

The point of our ride today was to calculate how long it takes us to go down A trail twice (13 miles total), and B trail once (4 miles total). We are focusing on low heart rate training, which means pulse is to NEVER exceed 130 bpm, even on the uphills. We did breach 130 on a couple of the worst uphill climbs, but the most part today her rate was a slow steady trot, with pulse between 79-120 bmp. Any time it pushed 130 + we drop to a walk until things steady down, then back to a trot again. Phebe's behavior was truly good today. A couple of minimal spooks, but no difficulty approaching, passing, or leaving other horses along the trail. She hunkers down to the job and just glides along at about 5 mph. I'm liking what I'm seeing a lot. If it had only happened once I'd refrain from the happy dance, but since it is trending this direction I'm very pleased. Water on trail today was very scarce. She barely wetted her mouth the first 13 miles, but the last 4 miles she drank long and deep, as well as finishing off the last half of my water bottle when she looked longingly at a "dry" water hole (she loves drinking out my water bottles). At our lunch break she cocked a hoof, and nearly dozed off...not a big deal except this was the fullest day parking area we've ever been to, and horses and people were milling around everywhere. I also may have unraveled part of the eating drinking thing today. She simply seems to need a little extra time to just relax before she wants to eat or drink. She stood there in a half doze for about 40 minutes, and at about an hour she was munching happily on some hay, and drank some from her water bucket. Our breaks are usually only a half hour or so and I think she needs more time to just settle down first. We also tried a very (low, low, low) minimal pre-ride dose of electrolyte today which may indeed have been the factor for her sudden down turn in appetite last week.

As for myself, I held up pretty well even though it was heating up the last hour we rode. I had a low sugar electrolyte drink pre-ride, another while I was riding, plus a bottle of water, a huge deli pickle with my lunch, chased down by another bottle of low sugar drink with potassium, then I loaded up my pack with two more bottles of fluid and drank those. So that is an idea of how much I sweat out over seventeen miles. I was replacing both sodium, potassium, and fluid. I feel much better than I have. I'd imagine if I'd have ridden an additional 15 miles I'd have needed easily 4 more bottles of something...but I'm getting there. No problem with sunburn today because we weren't out there long enough for that to become a concern. If the weather cooperates well for next weekend I plan to repeat that ride, and try to keep her pulse <130 , but inch up our ride time by a couple of minutes. By the end of the month I'd like to be able to trot the entire training loop in that soft little trot, and work out any of the little scary places where we loose time with a spook or startle, though that is much improved. I wasted time at scarce water holes and grassy places because "teaching" is more important right now than "going." As worriesome as the last two rides were with the non-eating issue, today just was a major improvement. Thanks guys for the input on easing up on her electrolytes, it was a definite improvement. Given the weather is what it is right now I think we could get by some salt in her night time mash, and an extremely low dose at the halfway if we need it at all. A rest day tomorrow, and Tuesday back to some hill training. ~E.G.


  1. Is it really fall there? Like with autumn leaves? Wow!

    I can drink a full gallon of e-lyted water in 5 hours during an LD and not need to pee til I'm back at camp and drinking even more. It's amazing how much we sweat, isn't it!

  2. We are having kind of a premature Fall. We have had like no rainfall to speak of since back in July. The leaves are just giving up the ghost! We don't have color yet, but will in a week or two, SPECTACULAR color by end of the month.

    Yes...I sweat worse than the horse!

  3. Funder (and EG): if you ain't peein', you still ain't drinkin' enough.

    Srsly. If you are hydrating properly, you should be peeing every 2 hours (minimum) and it should be the color you want your horse's pee to be. A gallon of elyte water sounds like a lot, but if you are sweating a lot, it's not enough. I carry 5-6 16-oz bottles with me for each leg of a ride (no matter what distance I'm travelling). I dump the contents of 2 or 3 bottles on Fiddle, and refill them in creeks and puddles as often as necessary. The other three, I drink. When we stop at a vet check, I refill everything. My riding mentor lectured me early that I should enter each vetcheck with a full bladder, and should try to drink at least one bottle of liquid while I was in the check. Patty knows what she's talking about, and I listen to her!

  4. Aarenex, ( Holding my hand up like an honor scout) (swearing on a turtle rock)...(I'm over 50, trust me....peeing was NOT an issue). But one long ride inparticular (Chicken Chase in the spring) I bet I didn't squeeze out a pee until the next day!

    I'm seriously thinking of changing out my cantle pack to something slightly bigger to hold more drinks, or ordering a couple more water bottle holders. Especially now that I know that I can entice my mare to drink out of a water bottle even when she won't drop her head to drink at a watering hole. After a lot of studying my horse and her behavior the past two weekends I'm convinced that her drinking issues (and also part of the eating thing) is strongly related to her inability to just relax when we stop. She has to assess her surroundings, even if nobody is around for 5 or 10 minutes to feel relaxed enough to drink, and upwards to an hour to eat. This will be a deficit at rides, but I've stayed over at a vet check before when I needed to, and I will again if she needs the time to regroup.

    These longer, slower conditioning rides have made me aware of things with my horse that I never had "time" to notice before. I know she has social anxiety as she automatically stiffens when she perceives a horse ahead, or behind. I have learned there is something about chopped up hunks of wood along the trail that disturbs her, that white tail deer are okay, and flapping turkey are NOT, she doesn't like trotting around a blind curve, and that we can be perfectly content riding in our aloneness (in fact I actually prefer it, though it is not the safest way to train). I've discovered over the past two weeks the gait at which her pulse is steady, and I've found that trotting after a hill brings her pulse down quicker than walking after a hill. I'm trying to look very hard at my horse rather than looking just at the destination. Even though we've ridden longer, her pulse downs are getting shorter. I'm having fun again, and if we never get any farther than this I suddenly have this "better" horse.