|February 22, 2015||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Besides stumps and cut logs, Farley’s other nemesis is….actually @##@!$^ conditioning.
I’m not complaining. I’m really not. There’s worse things than a horse that takes it easy at home. The fire-breathing Let’s Go at home Farley that appeared shortly after vet school and extended rest was a nice change, but sometimes difficult to manage depending on what I was asking her to do. News flash – sometimes we do walk. Without jigging. And sometimes I want to do stuff besides trail conditioning that requires a calm and non-explosive horse. I missed my solid even if sometimes reluctant to condition mare.
Well. Saturday I certainly didn’t have explosive. But I didn’t have steady, not-spooky, solid either.
At one point in the ride yesterday I actually glanced down at Farley to make sure that I had indeed pulled the correct bay mare out of the paddock, trailered one hour, saddled up, and was now riding down the trail.
Farley has always been a horse that is a challenge to condition at home for anything over 2 hours. However, this is the horse I conditioned for numerous 100 milers and we always got it done. So I set ourselves up for success.
- Did the loop first, so I could do the out and back for our last “loop”. Figured even if the rest of the ride was shitty, at least we would come back to the trailer in style.
- Brought my ipod. So when the inevitable 2-3 hour mark hit and Farley was doing her “can’t…possibly….go…on….” routine I could keep my zen and happily slow walk down the trail.
- Planned numerous grazing breaks.
- Not insisting on a trot unless it was truly no-excuses trotting type trail – ie flat with good footing.
- Planned a ride based on time instead of mileage – no matter how slow we went, we would still hit our goal for the ride. (3.5-4 hours)
At various points during the ride I was convinced of the following:
- She was terribly lame and I just wasn’t feeling it.
- She was tying up
- The saddle was giving her a massive sore and when I untacked her I was going to feel extremely bad.
- She was footsore. How dare I consider conditioning on a rocky trail without boots? I am obviously a bad human.
- She was incredibly out of shape and obviously the 2 hour ride I had done 3 weeks ago had done nothing, and what was I THINKING that she could do anything resembling endurance after MONTHS off.
It was not a good ride. We never fell into a rhythm where we effortlessly moved down the trail for even a short time. She spent the entire thing not moving forward, and taking every opportunity to slam on the brakes (“Oh, I thought that slight shift of your weight meant halt?”). My zen lasted about 3 hours, at which point I I broke off a branch and used it as a dressage whip, which she responded to by trotting as requested…but combined that with pinned ears and snakey witch mare face in the general direction of my leg – BAD PONY.
As for my fears?
When I untacked her…..the sweat pattern was perfect and she was not sore.
Her feet were in perfect condition
She was not lame
She did not tie up
When I got home and released her into the arena, she managed to summon the energy to canter away from me.
Honestly I sympathize with her. July was the last time we did a ride she did so she’s unconvinced that all this effort is actually going towards something. She hates conditioning if she doesn’t see the point. Since July, almost all of our long rides have been done at Orville. More cause for boredom and self-amusement spooking.
I wish I could show her a calendar and the 50 miler I have planned for us in 9 weeks. I wish there was a local LD I could take her to next weekend in order to show her this is not all just for giggles. I wish the other long mileage trails I like to use in the area weren’t so isolated that I’m worried if I got dumped it would take a couple of days to find me when I ride alone (no cell reception).
Farley and I have a relationship that is built on mutual respect and trust. It’s different from the more one-sided relationship I have with ML who is still learning the rules. I suppose that I could “assert my dominance” over Farley and be stricter about her always performing to my expectations while conditioning. The problem is that I need her to be a much more equal partner with me than just an obedient horse who will walk, trot, canter on command in order to be successful riding endurance.
I’m not a pushover – sometimes you have to suck it up and do what you don’t want to do. Whether it’s a solo conditioning ride on the same o’le trails, or the last loop of a 100 on a dark and cold night. When needed, I do take a firmer hand and reinforce the foundations of the relationship.
I suppose the price for this mostly magical, but sometimes shoot-me-now semi-democratic relationship is that sometimes Farley tells me something I’m not in the mood to hear, and occasionally we have rides that leave me unfulfilled and grumpy.
The ride wasn’t all bad (so the optimist in me says)
- The longest ride by far in the freeform and it performed beautifully. Great sweat pattern, no soreness on either her or me. I could definitely feel the wider twist by the end of the ride, but it wasn’t awful and I wasn’t particular sore. The bane of my existence (besides Farley sometimes) is my IT bands and they didn’t even twinge. I am going to set the stirrup bars a little more forward than the are now, since I had a tendency to get pitched forward during sudden stops and had trouble maintaining a good position trotting downhill.
- In related news, I have almost zero soreness today. This is a very good sign that the 50 in early May will not, in fact, muderate me.
- The smartwool underwear that Liz recommended worked AMAZINGLY well. We talk a lot about underwear (or lack of) in endurance and I had yet to find something that really worked for me during long rides (or runs). I think this might be the ticket. I had planned on wearing them on the 50k, but testing them out on a 4 hour ride wasn’t a bad thing either.
- I find myself actually looking forward to a horse that is all new to the sport of endurance, the concept of conditioning, and will find my old boring trails interesting. Am I scared to death or beyond ready to hit some trails with ML? I guess it totally depends on the last ride I had with Farley…
- I brought my husband’s GPS with me and actually got GPS tracks of some of the trails I run and ride the most so I can finally look at elevation maps and judge how wimpy or stoic I am!
- The ride probably went better than my 50k would have? OK, I might be just guessing at that one.
What I posted…
one year ago: Fourmidable race report
two years ago (2 posts): Vetmed subject: west nile, Why yes I did go riding this morning
three years ago: A look back
six years ago: Tune up ride 2/19/09
It makes me ridiculously relieved to hear that even an experienced endurance horse does the slow walk, stop every 2 seconds routine. Tristan is a nightmare to hack out for the first 20 minutes, and then he eases into it. But he has bags and bags and BAGS of tricks to try to talk me out of riding him away from the barn out onto the same roads/trails!
Joe does this too… We have a new to endurance partnership (Ashleigh my 10 year old and her mare) and they WHIZZ down the trail ears pricked and full of enthusiasm, while Joe and I poke along several metres behind being old, experienced and grumpy… He definitely feels this is all a bit pointless at the moment (we haven’t done an actual endurance ride since October last year). He was extra spooky yesterday (for him – he’s NOT a spooky horse so your post today was a real lightbulb moment for me. I am also equal parts excited and scared to get on Faith (not for a couple of years yet though) and see what enthusiasm she brings to the trail.
Nice to know someone else goes through this. Sometimes I just want to despair. If she didn’t absolutely adore her job once at a ride I would seriously question my sanity at doing this sport on this horse. The spooking thing is really interesting. I almost picture it like the adhd kid that can’t stay awake in class and so they start poking the kid next to them.
I got some Icebreaker (also a type of smart wool) underwear and just tried it out today. Worked really well. It’s a shame it’s so expensive or I’d get them for everyday wear.
I know! I’ve gradually a few pieces here and there and wear the crap out of them and they keep on going. i’ve actually conciously NOT been buying clothes lately so that I can justify a few more expensive pieces here and there. Makes it feel so luxurious.
So what are the smartwool undies that you tried? Sorry 🙂 Like you said endurance people like discussing undies or lack of.
I think these are the ones (http://www.smartwool.com/clothing/sport-underwear/womens-nts-micro-150-bikini-1.html), but take a look at their sport underwear options. I got the non-PhD ones in a bikini form.
Horses. If it isn’t slogging along like Farley it is crazy forward (like my horse). And it depends on location, day of the week, etc! It still sounds like a good ride, and I have totally been there with the “is my horse lame/hurting/just an idiot/have to pee/etc.” Going out for time is good, it changes expectations and just lets you get it done.
But I don’t know which is worse/better, I had to ride an extended trot for 9 miles before Major would slow down during a 15 mile ride. Sigh…
[…] long one was a 16.5 mile trail ride up in Oroville (you know, the one wrote about here where I discussed Farley’s distinct lack of interest in conditioning […]