First of all, apologies to my readers as well as to ANDI for leaving her hanging on a bad training day. She is coming along nicely and I'll get caught up with her posts shortly.

In other news, What a fabulous time we had at the Bluebonnet ride this year. Due to "life" (and such), I hadn't been able to attend an endurance ride in about 14 months, and, as they say, that's too long.

It sure was great to be back in the saddle and back on the trail. GWAIHIR had an excellent ride his last time out (not counting the rider option pull last April due to the weather and his wimpy rider) with a 1st in our division and a 3rd overall on the tough Hill Country trail.

Saturday, he never missed a beat. Other than being a little more overly ambitious than usual, I couldn't tell he'd been out of the game for so long. He ate and drank better than ever and, as always, was eager for the trail. We had a great finish, I haven't seen the official results yet, but I think in the top 20.

If I read the photographers captions correctly, these photos are at about 47 miles. I love having happy horses at that distance.

Courtney rode ELBERTH (Beri), a smarter ride, letting us run, she slowed down for an easy day, just missing turtle by a couple of riders.

Beri finishing another 50 is a real success story for us as she tied up at the Bandera ride last year. We researched all our options and treated and brought her back conservatively.

We looked at everything, exercise, conditioning and fitness level, nutrition and even her heat cycle. I'd changed feeds and so I changed back. Over the course of the next weeks and months, we did a course of selenium and a very slow, structured work schedule, a period of rest and then a repeat of the very gradually increasing work, bringing her up to a regular riding schedule.

And it paid off. She's been doing light trail work and arena work, including winning the AHA OEIP National Mounted Shooting Championship for 2009, but this was her first long distance ride since her tie-up.

I couldn't resist adding this one. We're racing no one for ... I figured 30th place ... turned out to be in the top 20.... but I just love to let them run across the finish line. It feels good to have that much horse left. I didn't know Jim Edmondson (the photographer) was there, but got excited when I saw him get out his camera. I thought I'd get a real good photo of GWAIHIR extended and working, I love those with the nostrils flared and all that going on...

*sigh* It's a fun shot, but the son-of-a-gun doesn't even look like he's breathing hard. I love having that much horse, but he's going to have to work a little harder next time out so I can get one of those dramatic finish line photos that I love.


Shae said...

My curiosity is thorough piqued: you mentioned "Gwaihir" (love that name by the way -I'm a consummate Tolkien lover) was over ambitious setting out on your long race. Do you often need to set the pace for your horse? Do the horses have any idea how long they will be asked to run?

Becky Burkheart said...

Hi Shea.

LOL about the name, and thanks! I'm a total Tolkien ubergeek and it's always nice to meet someone else who is similarly obsessed.

The pacing question is good and probably deserves and entire post on it's own.

GWAIHIR would love to be a NASCAR, he loves to go fast. He's not hard to keep at a moderate pace, but he has to be checked more rather than less earlier in the ride. As the miles add up, he settles down and will lope along on a loopy rein.

To a large degree, once he settles down, I let him pace himself, trot or canter. We switch back and forth depending on the terrain and I think that since he knows it's 'ok' for him to change gaits, if certain muscle groups get tired, it lets him switch and keep going. Of course he knows better how he feels than I do. :)

As far as knowing how far they have to go. I think after they've done a few events, they get a pretty good idea.

Shae said...

Gwaihir the naspony. That is a thoroughly heartwarming mental image.

I'm wondering: reading back, you don't favour Gwaihir for the long-distance events as such, but seem to be giving him a really good go in this field, almost like a period of focus -yes?
I'm wondering, if my assumption is true, did you choose him because of his strength, or more because of his demeanour / attitude / character?
Perhaps to gain insight into what I'm trying to learn, allow me to ask you another question to replace those before it:
If he gave you "a perfect race" what would he do?
p.s. if it's not over ambitious to enquire: would a mare do differently?

Val said...

I wish the photographer had gotten a pic of B-boy loping in w/the FEI riders on [what turned out to be] our last loop...
[Great photos BTW]
He was dislocating my shoulders when I pulled him back & wouldn't let him keep pace w/LE anymore! Wish momma hadn't been such a wimp :-(

Becky Burkheart said...

A NasPony! That's perfect.

Actually, that's curious what you picked up about him. He really is my main endurance horse. He was bred for it and it's mainly what he's trained and focused on. My own life has held us back more than anything about it.

He really does have a good build and attitude for long distance.

A 'perfect race'? I guess I have to stay that a bad day in the saddle is better than a good day doing almost anything else. :)

Otherwise, any day like last weekend comes close to perfect, cool sunshiney weather and a good horse with lots of energy all the way through the ride.

Becky Burkheart said...

Val! LOL! That would have been a good photo. It's a shame he didn't get it.

I didn't know he was at the finish, I just always love to run across it. I didn't see him there, I guess until about the time he took the shot.

Becky Burkheart said...

Shea, forgot to say. The difference between mares and stallions ... other than the obvious gender issues that some individuals tend to exhibit more than others, it still comes down to the individual.

IME, either mares or stallions can be 'marish' or 'studish' in company which is the reason many people prefer geldings.