The Last Hoorah Endurance ride

We (me, GWAIHIR, GLAMDRING and Lucy) had a wonderful ride this weekend. It was especially fun for me because it's a trail that I help put in years (and years!) ago and have ridden a lot, but I've always managed the competitions there and so this was the first year for me that I got to compete over those trails. - and I loved every minute of it.

I took off work Friday and the youngest son went to camp with me and help out with the horses. He's a great camper - he loves to set up camp and cook and just hang out. I saddled up and rode each for the horses for about an hour and even though I knew they were going to be excitable the next morning, I thought we'd have a pretty good start.

One of the funny things about horses is how they almost seem to have a collective energy - and so morning camp at an endurance can be a pretty exciting place.

We lunged ours for a few minutes before we got on - and then just walk walk walked around, being nice and quiet. We let the front runners go when they opened trail, and we stayed back until most of the pack had rounded the first turn in the trail and then walked out. We walked for awhile and once the horses settled, we picked up a trot and jogged and loped the rest of the day. This is a wonderful fun trail, but somewhat technical and it's difficult to do fast.

I knew the horses weren't conditioned to do a fast ride, especially in the tricky combination of rock and slick mud we rode through, so we started out with the plan to ride back of the pack and stuck with it all day.

The first loop was 15 miles with a 'trot by' where the vet quickly checks the horse, then another ten miles. So we did the first half of the ride in about four hours, and the second half in about the same so I'm pleased with our pacing. Eight hours is a good, solid back of the pack pace that gives you a full day riding without getting too long. The horses looked good at the end, not too tired - and they both had good vet scores.

I'm having a little trouble with GWAIHIR, I think it's related to his blind spot. (he has a corneal scar from an injury that clouds the front half of his field of vision on the right side). He wants to travel crooked, with his head tilted so he can see more forward with his left eye and while it's not hard to correct him, it takes a lot of consistency on the part of the rider. I have a bad knee and ankle on that side that aches when I get tired and exacerbates his crookedness. He stepped on his heel bulb and cut himself (all on the right side) and he was sore in the back on that side. See how the issues cascade?

This could be an excellent issue to use to escalate conflict for a western or fantasy hero that I've never seen used. We're going to go back to doing more dressage type exercises in the arena to try to keep his muscling even and go from there.


Val said...

Great pix! (Boo hoo, I wish I had some of MY baby!)
Q: how slow did WE ride?
A: so slow that even the photographer had packed up & moved on!
But as you know I'm pleased as can be w/my 7-min-to-spare completion...

Aelfleah Farm said...

7 minutes! That's not a turtle! I finished a 25 at Bandera one year with mere seconds left on teh clock...

Becky Burkheart said...

Haha! Yes. I've done some slower rides. My closest finish was at the Stockyards ride, we were within about three minutes.