On “The big trot”

I’ma big fan of Endurance Granny’s blog chronicling her training of “Journey” the little spotted one. Some of the stuff she has posted recently on average speeds has got me thinking.

We’ve all seen those amazing Arabs come floating past us doing an 18 km/hr trot… Even Prycie can trot at 18 km/hr all day if you ask him – he’s a pacer with 60 starts to his name in a previous life – heck he doesn’t know HOW to trot any slower than that!

Joe on the other hand… trots at 13 km/hr. It’s comfortable, and he can do it for long periods. Which sounds fine, but in a 50 mile ride, once you add in a few walk periods, stops for water, and potty breaks, you start to cut it pretty fine for a finishing time.

Joe HAS a big trot, and we have found it once or twice, at rides where he has wanted to catch the horse in front and I won’t let him run! But he can’t (yet) do it for very long. When asked for it at home he try and offer a canter instead. Left to choose his own gait out on a training ride, but with me insisting on an average of 15km/hr, he will switch (pretty easily and efficiently) between canter and trot. And the heart rate monitor says he is more efficient this way than trying to find the “big trot”.

So – do I just accept that we need to mix it up a bit to get our speeds up? Or do I keep looking for and training that big trot in the hope that time and work will make the required muscles stronger and he will be able to do it for longer? I’m leaning towards the former – I’m a bit of a fan of letting the horse have a say in what feels best for them. What does everyone else think? I’m not looking for a 5 hour ride time – justa  completion.
Sigh – training up a horse who already had a pretty serious fitness base after a race career is a lot easier than working one up from scratch! It’s a challenge – but in a good way.

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