A Look Inward
Gearing up to write on horse # 2 which was a horse unknown to me I felt suddenly that all I could draw from that was a "theory" of the numbers. In the case of horse #1 I had some background on the horse. So instead I decided to look at my own numbers and translate what if any meaning those numbers reflected, as the entire gist of this blog post was to look at your own horse and see if the numbers bring to awareness how your horse is doing over a period of time. Looking at our own numbers, limited and abbreviated as they may be, they do tell an underlying story if you know the background.
RIDE #1 25 miles/ 3:52 To fast. Almost four hours. But too fast at the start. Training with middle of the pack LD riders, and completing that first ride with them. Starting with the pack. I have to wonder if I'd have had a solo mentality and understanding of the term "slow" which I though I was ascribing too but was not, if all things would not have been different. This one ride set the course for all the trouble that followed. A caution to anyone starting the distance sports to take that first year easy, use it as training, not competing. Slow is not 7 mph. Slow is more like 4.5-5 mph. You walk a lot with slow. I was later to discover that I actually prefer slow...seeing the trail, looking out over woodland hills and vistas, it is all a very Zen-like experience if you let it happen. The founders of the sport understood this I think.
RIDE # 2 30/ 4:55 We were still struggling with our pacing. This ride was the choke me up ride. We finished. My horse was okay. We rode by ourselves, doing our own thing, and it worked for us. I appreciated Phebes more that day than all the previous time we'd had together. I also appreciated the hazards of the sport on a non-typical breed, and saw much more work to be done on pacing.
Ride # 3 30/ 5:07 A slightly different course that day, and again riding solo as much as possible. We started near the front and found a pocket. It worked well. Had some booting issues on this ride, but my girl did fine.
Ride #4 Rider option. Missed a ribbon, and had to back track the first half of the ride. Got to the vet check horse all worked up, NQR, and a personal issue with my family caused me to have to pack up and go home.
Ride #5 30/ 4:11 Day one of the ride. The pacing issue arises again...we had lessons with two trainers, and though I could get her to rate in an arena setting, in the midst of the trail, and passing horses, she'd emotionally unravel. We finished way back in the pack, but an exhausting ride.
Ride #6 30/ 5:02 Day two of this ride went much better. We added an hour to our ride time.
Ride #7 25/ 4:41 Day one of a two day ride. Rode solo, lost the horse....retrieved the horse. No vetting issues.
Ride #8 25/ 4:10 Day two. Different course, not quite so hilly. Much cooler rainy day and we rode with a buddy at the back of the pack.
When I look at the numbers I see that we could have walked a bit more. Taken more time on the hills. Perhaps if we'd held back and started ten minutes behind the entire pack...things would have worked out better. Still she is a very emotional horse. It may have made no difference at all. But Phebes, and the trail have taught me some valuable lessons that I just didn't "get." Eight rides is a very short career. But it charts the difficulty with this horse in this sport. Phebes is physically a much stronger horse than Journey with much more drive. More of what you'd expect an endurance horse to be. But yet...it wasn't working. She has had a full year off now. To rest. To heal. At some point I may start her over with a trainer and a turtle mentality and see what happens. If Journey gets the curve...and just a little go (enough to complete) I may totally abandon the idea of distance for Phebes forever.
Now just a slightly different look at just one ride which I did repeatedly.
All I can translate from this is that by riding alone (the middle ride) we got the closest to our goal of "riding our own ride." Another important point to remember with Journey in the future.
No big surprises here. Only eight total completions as a rider. Seven on Phebes. Still a newbie in every sense. But... I.HAVE.LEARNED.A.LOT. I'm still learning.