Joe and I went for a training ride on the weekend. We have another 80 scheduled for 2 weeks time so this weekend was really our last chance to clock up some serious kilometres. (Prevailing wisdom is that your fitness base is laid down WELL AHEAD of the actual ride: that the last 14 days should be spent tapering – train too much in those last 2 weeks and you are at risk of “leaving your horse out on the training track”).
Better yet, my kids were away last weekend at their grandparents – yay, pony time!
Saturday morning we set off and did a fast 35kms in 2 hrs 40 minutes, averaging almost 13km/hr (which may not seem fast to the advanced riders out there, but is a lift in training speed for us). He pulled up VERY well, with a heart rate back down to 44 beats per minute 15 minutes after we finished. All good then. I planned another 20kms on Sunday, making up a 55km weekend.
When I went to get him out of the paddock Sunday morning, he was down, dozing in the sun. When I walked up to get him, he walked AWAY from me. Not like him. I persisted, and he stopped and let me catch up, but instead of bullying me for snacks as usual he appeared – resigned. Not his usual perky self. Tired..
So I pulled the halter back off, loved on him for a few minutes, and took a stroll on foot with the dogs instead. By Sunday night, he was happy to see me again. He was TIRED Sunday morning, and needed a break.
Do I think we’re ready for 80kms? Yep. Do I think we’re ready to mix it with the big guys and start clocking sub 7 hour times? Nope. And that’s OK. I am learning how little exercise a fit endurance horse really needs to keep them fit. GETTING them fit takes a ton of work, and I dare say if I wanted to go the extra mile and get him fit AND fast (sub 7 hours) I’d have needed to do that 20km on Sunday as well. But to maintain fitness, that one ride was probably enough.
BUT. He’s “only” 7, and I want him around into his teens. We have time. And if he’s not a sub 7 hour horse, that’s OK too. I’m not about to make him sour, tired and sore trying. Nor am I about to sell him and buy a fire breathing dragon just to reach that goal. Part of what I love about Joe is that I can also go for a trail ride with my kids without any idiocy. (Course, on ride day we ARE a fire breathing dragon, but that is beside the point!)
A ride report will follow, I promise! Wish us luck.