endomondo · long slow distance · road hacking

Scientific Trail Riding

Last night, I saddled up and we went for a longish hack. I’m working on three operating theories;

– I need to ride more, for my sanity and health and for Tristan’s health;
– All the reading I do indicates that metabolic horses need regular, consistent exercise;
– Long slow distance is the right kind of work for Tristan right now: low-impact, muscle-building, and when it’s done outside, good for his brain.

All those three things pointed to long hacks as our new standard ride, with occasional short ringwork 1-2 days a week.

So last night was the launch of some new metrics for our rides. I’ve used Endomondo before to track our rides, but last night I paid particular attention to distance and speed. I wanted to know how far it is all the way around the big hay field, and what Tristan’s speed would look like if I rode him on the buckle the whole time.

So there’s the answer. The big hay field is just about exactly 1 mile around. It’s about a quarter mile away from the barn. Last night, I cut off part of the field because I wanted to hold him closer to 2 miles, but now I know we can go 2.5 miles just by leaving the barn and walking around the big field twice. (It also occurred to me we could do a 50 miler by trotting the big field 50 times, and then I thought about how unutterably boring that would be.)
Tristan was spot-on 3mph, or a 20 minute mile, for our first mile, in a really pretty lazy meandering kind of walk. At almost exactly one mile in, he blew out, farted, and eased into the work quite nicely, picking up the pace ever so slightly, still of his own choice. Our second mile was just under 19 minute, still at the walk.
Keep in mind that practically every single inch of this ride was on a hill of some kind: up, down, laterally. The only flat surface at our barn is in the ring. So he worked reasonably hard, in a good way. He was ever-so-slightly warm, and had about a 1″ square spot of sweat directly under the girth. That speaks jointly to the technicality of the ride and to his muscle loss right now. I know it’s nothing like the miles and pace some of you log while conditioning for endurance, but we all have to start somewhere, right?
On an impulse, I stopped by Walmart on the way to the barn and found myself an iPhone armband on clearance for $10. Score! None of my breeches have pockets, and my old cell phone holder is sized for a flip phone and doesn’t work for the iPhone. So I’ll be able to track his rides going forward more easily. I hope to build some statistics as he continues this work and as he starts on the pergolide.
On a personal fitness note, the last quarter mile, up the big long galloping hill, I did entirely in two point. 1/3 of the way I started to feel it. Halfway there was definite burn. The last 100 feet or so were agony. Good for the soul.

road hacking

Sunday Hack

Quiet-ish hack on Sunday, snuck in between rain showers.

Love this field.

Summer working students on ponies, plus dog.

I…have no idea what exactly all that is. Tris was confused too.

You know you’re an eventer when! So much stuff.

Dipping my toe into the half chap world. I’ve never worn them consistently before.

Fall is coming.

The redheads.

road hacking

Mud Season Hack (Again)

Sunday was an hour of road hacking with a friend – up, down, up again. Tristan was jigging his way downhill again so I did get off and handwalk him. I am a bit frustrated by finding the balance between “nice big forward walk home” and “jig jig jig until you trip.” Sitting deep and quiet is one thing; hauling on his mouth to no effect is another.

That said: at about the 45 minute mark he gets much better. He eases into it and focuses on the road ahead instead of the barn behind. The solution here might be just to keep him out for longer. Possibly this Sunday we can hit another road and do 45 minutes out, 45 minutes back.

Before then, we need to get back in the ring. I haven’t schooled him outside of a lesson in 3 weeks, yikes. I am the worst. I just keep getting to the barn and tacking him up and then being physically unable to set foot in the ring, so we head outside instead.

Monday was shot #2 in his loading doses of Pentosan, and this should start to be the tipping point of feeling better – this week or next. We’ll see. Tonight the temperature will drop about 40 degrees and we’ll get an inch or two of that-four-letter-word-that-starts-with-s. Then tomorrow spring will arrive for good. (I know I keep saying and thinking that, but eventually it has to be true, right?)

lesson notes · road hacking

In Just-spring

when the world is mudlicious
and puddlewonderful

says e.e. cummings, to continue the poetry kick.

Two very good rides. Long road hack on Sunday, with some short bits of trot interspersed. We stopped at a big puddle of runoff to see if he would want to take a drink (he loves his puddles), and he took a long drink, then splashed and splashed with his nose, curling his lip in disgust every other splash when water went up his nose. I forgot to turn on the GPS app, but I would estimate we were out for about 60 minutes.

Monday, a lesson. We focused on hind end action: both in flexibility and in push. WT put out poles, and wanted me to capture the feeling of that push and that activity in going all the way around the ring. When I was losing it, and falling into nagging, I was to go back over the polls. It worked really well. He was really motoring around, and sitting back, and lifting through his back.

In between, the focus was on really.going.straight. Lining everything up and not letting him trick me into overbending instead of really stepping through in the shoulder-in and haunches-in.

In all, I felt really good about where I had him. I felt less good about the consistency of it: keeping him there. And I felt not so good about my own position, which was sloppy at times. In particular, heels! I’ve usually been pretty good about them, but I am doing far too much pointing with my toes and pushing off the balls of my feet.

After the lesson, the barn manager gave Tris his first Pentosan injection. It was a lot – 6ccs – in the muscle, and I had bought a slightly larger gauge of needle than is usual (20). So he definitely felt it, but was very good. I think we’ll have to get further into the loading dose before he shows any results, but I’m optimistic.

Rest of the week:
Tuesday, rest
Wednesday, longeing (maybe? work event that might keep me late)
Thursday, hack
Friday, dressage school
Saturday, rest