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

September 26, 2010

Quite an educational adventure today...

Doc unrolling himself out of the trailer, he is self-unloading, pretty cool!
Doc, doing what Doc does extremely well...

Phebes looking really fit! Gloves on front, bare hoof behind.

Lida and I scrapped plans for Brown County today in favor of riding in the Clark State Forest which is about an hour and half drive for each of us from our home locations. We started our first loop on Mountain Grove. Lida with map in hand, and I with a "from memory recollection" of the trail intersections wrapped around my pommel. We both happily discovered that they are putting trail markers in Clark! No missed intersections, we boogied right along without getting lost which has been a big issue for me at Clark on previous rides including one competition. We followed the green....we followed the red....we followed red and blue.....and before we new it we were back and ready for a lunch break. Phebes had only gone 10 miles so she as usual shunned her water bucket, made only a token attempt at eating her mash (which I had such high hopes for), and was only enticed to eat a few mouthfuls of hay, a treat from Lida, and some cold carrots from me. So I started filling water bottles and at least got some water into her, but not the half bucket I'd have liked to have seen. It was NOT an electrolyte issue today because I had not given any, and sure wish that I had pre-ride as she wasn't feeling stimulated to drink. Further, there was not a drop of water anywhere on trail. Doc had tanked up really good prior to going back out and I knew when Phebes hit the 17 mile mark she was going to want water, and she would have three more miles to go before she got any. I put an extra bottle of water in my cantle pack, it wasn't much but I knew my horse was going to be needing to wet her mouth. Like clockwork, mile 17 rolls along and the creek where she would drink at a ride she stops and starts heading down the creekbed looking for water. The next time we stopped to let the horses graze I dismounted and opened up that bottle of water and she was sucking it down just like a person would. (Made me wish I had a liter), by that point we had 2 miles to go and we just walked them in. At the trailer she did not even let me dismount and buried her head in the full bucket and sucked down about 3 gallons. She also ate some more of her mash and began tearing into her hay.

Today I learned that most of Phebes pulsing issues aren't related to fitness in any way what so ever. Phebes has social anxiety of the horse sort. If she sees a horse coming towards her it spikes (160 bpm), if a horse comes up behind her trotting or cantering (160-180 bpm), a horse alongside will bring a quick spike and she tends to aim her fanny just slightly towards them (a new issue to sort out in a hurry) and gets very sticky if not stuck on the trail until the gap opens back up. She was very moody to say the least today.

But! We finished up our ride of 20 miles in the hills, and my horse was walking in a 48 bpm (until she saw the paved road where the cars drive down and she hates cars so it quickly jumped back to 100 bpm). At the trail her pulse dove below 58 as soon as she stuck her head in the water.

It was a beautiful ride day and I was so grateful that Lida hauled the extra half hour to ride with us. ~E.G.


  1. Man, I so feel your pain. Here's hoping both our mares learn to drink like pros, and soon! Sounds like a lovely ride otherwise :)

  2. EG, sounds like you had a great ride! Forgive me for asking (I don't know much about endurance riding, but love reading about it on your blog), but how do you know your horse's heart rate at each activity? And what rates are good vs bad? Thanks!

  3. EG, Phebes is beautiful! And so fit! She looks awesome and ready for anything! :)

  4. Jan,

    I have her hooked up to a heart rate monitor while we are riding. I get the reading on a reciever which is a wristwatch/receiver depending on which setting you have it on. Polar makes them.

    What you are looking for is keeping your horse's heart rate in aerobic range, running off the oxygen in the bloodstream. It is also an efficient fat burning type of exercise. Working a horse aerobically usually means a good working trot (not an all out crazy trot or gallop) at a steady pace. Some sources say to keep pulse at 140 or below at all times. I'm currently trying to keep her pulse at 130 or below which means we are moving pretty darned slow (4-6 mph) at all times.

    She is looking good right now. Our biggest barrier is her emotions, she can really come unglued at actual rides so it has been difficult trying work the bugs out of our actual competing strategies. But I love this little horse and we will keep working at things until we get it...even if she is ten (and I am 60) before we do! ~E.G.

  5. EG, thanks for your response. Very interesting about the heart rate monitor. But where does it attach to a horse? And how does it attach? (I am thinking of the EKG done to a human... with little patches that have wires running out of them, put on various places of the human body...) I'll also look at the Polar website, they may have pictures. Thanks!

  6. Jan,
    One electrode patch thingy goes under the girth on the left side behind the horse's elbow, the other is a ground that goes under the saddle pad. You put some gel on these, then tighten up the girth and you are all done. It is really a pretty easy process. I did notice this week suddenly I was running a 157...157...157 even at the walk, and thought either something is bad wrong or, and hang myself sideways to look underneath and my girth was hanging an inch and a half or more below her belly, wonder I didn't fall off on my head! *LOL* Tightened back up to discover we now in the 50's. On our first loop had one amazing flat trot that we were pulsing below 60 at the trot. Her numbers are continuing to drop and that is very gratifying. ~E.G.

  7. EG, thank you so much for explaining it to me! Now I can imagine how it attaches to her! Very interesting piece of equipment, and it gives you so much instant information. Phebes' fitness is really impressive. Thanks again!