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

August 7, 2012

Getting Control of the Cool Down

Journey's tough to cool out.  However, we haven't been following a good protocol on our training loop as I'm usually more focused on the clock / mph / average time issue more than anything else.  So of course we cruise in too fast (fast being relative to Journey here) to properly get a bearing of how we are doing.  Past few weeks I've been running the HRM on every ride.  We have been taking some pretty steep uphills, and doing some repetitions, working towards heart rates over 180. 

YOU CAN NOT HARDLY GET HER HEART RATE OVER 180.  At least not at the trot.  So we have really been hustling up a few hills, but this is new territory, and I'm afraid of hurting her somehow, so I'm limiting her to four hard repetitions with a drop to 80 before we hit it again.  Cantering up the hill from hell got us a BPM of 198 as we crested the top.  We shimmy back down, and by the bottom she is pretty much back to 80 or below.  Honestly I'd prefer an easy canter over a very long easy grade.  It would be safer.   I'm limiting her to once a week on that, keeping the session brief, and then just walking back home.  Things are looking kind of like this right now:

  1.  One ten mile same training loop ride at the park each week with a focus on improving our time by half a minute or so total.  Also working on sustaining our flat cantering in the process to build her up her average time.
  2. The hill from hell once a week, four reps, at least until it becomes easy, which right now it isn't.
  3. Just a hour with intermittent walk, trot, canter.
I've noticed a few things since we've been doing more cantering, her trot has improved.  So has her canter, but her trot has improved more.  Kind of weird, huh?  We are managing to canter for several hundred yards at a time now vs. seven or eight strides.   She will attempt a run away if facing the direction of home, and she is hard to get back.  So I'm picking and choosing our places to work a bit more carefully.

 Journey is looking very fit, her weight is holding well (especially since we only had four weeks of grass before it all bellied up and died in the drought), the toe of her hoof has come back a little which has made her boots fit better.  Her muscle tone is great.  I'm a serious muscle-tone-o-phobe. 

Having said all of that, we had a short sporadically snappy ride this evening with some walks in between.  It is hot, and humid.  I walked her in the last half-mile, hand walked her less than a quarter mile, loosened her girth, dropped her bit once we hit paved road.  I rubbed her face and eyes with a towel when we got in to curb the itchiness.  Stepped around and hit the button on my HRM reciever  67.....67.....65....61....58.  Just like that.  So she can do it, we just need to practice a method and stick with it.  This was also a waterless cool down.  Not advocating that, just didn't have a bucket set up tonight.  But we did okay!

Journey is on short-term R&R and I am back to the mines for the next two.

Happy trails.  ~ E.G.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like you are getting things figured out! As far as pulsing down goes with my current gelding... I have found that if his pulse is just a tad high (like mid 60's) after loosening the girth, removing his bridle, and having him pee (on command) then what I do is very gently massage circles with my fingertips on his forehead. Suddenly he is at 52. Boom. It is weird. I have tried that on other horses and they get all excited and want to rub on me. Not this guy. His pulse just drops like a rock. They are all so different and sometimes you really have to experiment to see what works. Good luck!