Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Conditioning Theories???

Okay.....so I've been doing some thinking about what qualifies for sufficient fitness for a horse's first LD.

I don't have a GPS.

I don't have a pre-measured conditioning "trail" around home.

No heart rate monitor.

I think that for my modest goals, this is okay.

This season will most likely consist of all Limited Distance, and in my understanding, you have 6 hours to complete 25-30 miles, including the 1 hour hold in the middle of the two loops, so about 5 hours of ride time. I believe that makes for an average of 5-6 mph. I'll just guess that Arabee walks at 3 mph, trots at 8 mph, and canters at 12 mph. (One of these days I'll actually figure out how fast she moves - we have some nice, flat farm lanes that are 1/2 mile long, and I can time her at all three gaits at that distance, then double it to get miles per hour.)

My plan (right now) for rides would be to trot on flats and uphill, and walk downhill. So I would guess we'd trot 75% of the time, walk 25% of the time. But for the first ride, I'll estimate more of a 50/50. So....if she walks for two and a half hours (half of the available time) at 3 mph, then we've traveled 7.5 miles, and for a 25 miler, there'd be 17.5 miles left - and it'd take a little more than 2 hours of trotting at 8mph to finish, and we'd have plenty of time. Of course, that's not how I'd ride....we'd probably walk the first half mile or so, to make sure her mind is on her job (which is listening to me, her rider, and keeping track of her feet), then proceed with trotting on flats and uphills, walking on downhills, really steep uphills, or whenever she needs a breather.

So I'm thinking that if I can build Arabee up to the point where she can trot for 2.5 hours, then we'll be ready for our first LD. Even though I won't know specifically how far we've gone, just knowing how fast a horse trots can give me a good enough idea, I would think.

Does this seem like sound reasoning? Especially knowing I'm starting with a 13 year old sound Arabian mare with a good mind. (I'm fully anticipating lots of "stupidness" at the start of the ride, and each time a horse is within sight or hearing, but she's had quite a bit of experience going places and with consistency on my part should come around to listening fairly well)

Would love a discussion on "basic" fitness requirements or what your conditioning goals are! Leave comments!


Barry said...

If you get her to the point that she can do a medium trot for 2.5 hrs, you'll certainly have her cardiovascular system ready for a 25. No doubt.
Just having found a link to your blog today, I don't know what kind of base conditioning your horse has. It takes alot of LSD work to get the bones, ligaments and tendons in shape for a long endurance career. The cardiovascular system ramps up pretty quick in comparison.
Hang in there. Barry

Nicole said...

Thanks for the comment, Barry! Do you compete in endurance?

Arabee was broke to ride at 4 years old, ridden in 4H and class A arabian shows for 2 summers. She then spent from 2002 until late 2008 essentially living as a pasture ornament (was kept on a regular hoof trimming schedule, UTD on vaccinations and worming) with rolling hills and got fat doing it!

I started riding again in the fall of 2008 and began conditioning for endurance early 2009, had worked up to doing 14 miles on training rides in March, with a goal of completing her first LD in April....but I was pregnant (our son was born in November) and had to stop riding.

So it's safe to say her (and my) conditioning has started again now in January, starting with handwalking on pavement interspersed with some jogging. We've been gradually increasing ride times and are now to the point of 45 minutes at the walk and trot (in deep snow). The plan is to continue to increase ride duration 5 minutes at a time.

zach_rabow said...

Hey Nicole, drop me an email (u can find it at my blog) and i will send u an email about this, from what i have learned...

Zach Rabow :)

Anonymous said...

Seeing if I can post.


Nicole said...

Zach - you can go ahead and post in the comments on this - even if your answer gets long. But if you'd rather, blog.adayinthelife@gmail.com

Michelle - are you having trouble leaving comments??

Barry said...

Good morning,

Yes, I ride endurance and Linda has started doing CTR as I try to persuade her to do endurance.
It looks like you're taking it slow and easy. You might try a CTR on her in the Spring to see how she does with the pace of a distance ride and the atmosphere of a ride. I bet she'll surprise you with how well she handles it from the fitness angle of it.
Where are you located in the Midwest?

Anonymous said...

I was trying to reply to your previous post, and basically it's just about my ride on Sunday. It must have been too long. I'll try to break it down. ((But on this topic; I think your thinking is logical.))

Sounds like it was colder when you rode Sunday than it was for me. I rode both horses solo. Stormy and the new horse. I had been lucky to be able to ride with Allen Thursday and Saturday. Then Saturday I rode Stormy solo. Both those days were pretty much uneventful. But Sunday was a little more dramatic.

I took the dog with me. Since I was by myself and he SO likes to go! He's still pretty young and has the mindset of a puppy. I planned on riding thru my property out to the closed road behind our property (EG has done this with me) and then cross the creek. Go down the paved Asherman road. Passed our resident "crazies" house. They have a loose horse and goats not to mention junk strewn all over the yard. (which doesn't look too bad with the snow covering it now). Out to the highway. I only had to go about a half mile, maybe a little less, of highway to get to this mile long uphill gravel driveway. That the horses like to race up. I knew the horse would be fine. Just worried about the dog if any cars came. One car did pass us but Blue didn't try to chase it and was good........

Anonymous said...

Ran up the hill and Shazam RAN all the way to the top! It is quite a hill and with no other horses there to race I was impressed he wanted to run all the way to the top. Especially in the deep snow. Walked back down it. Came out to the highway. Was going good until two cars came towards us that were close together. I was worried about the dog. He followed behind the last car that went passed and if he did so this time the car behind might hit him. Well exactally what I worried about happened. First car went by, then dumb dog jumps in behind him just doddeling along. Second car driver doesn't even see him because he's too busy looking at the girl riding the pretty white horse. I'm yelling my head off at Blue to get out of the way. Finally driver sees dog as dog stops to smell something on the road. He slams on the brakes and barely misses my dog. I yelled something like "you idiot, move!." to the dog. And I'm hoping the driver didn't think I was talking to him. He waved and I waved back and shrugged my shoulders. Still shook up about that and a car comes from behind to pass us. Dog jumps over in the ditch this time when I yell at him.

Then, up ahead, I see a semi coming down the hill with a trailer full of trailer campers and truck lids. (there is a camper place beside our house and apparently it was time for their Sunday shipment). I pushed Shazam into a trot hoping to make it off onto the side road before he came. But didn't make it. Semi truck slows down for curve but not really for me. And Shazam is visibly scared. I take him off the road as far as I can but the hillside is steep and there is a fence behind us. I make him face the truck as it passes and he starts backing up. Almost fell overbackward because of the bank but I think all the snow that had drifted in it helped him keep upright. Dog luckily stayed out of the way. Shazam about stepped on him but at least he didn't go out in the road.

Once it went by and we got to the side road I started to trot him. And noticed it was hard to post since my legs had turned to Jello! But by the time I crossed the creek and ran up Asherman road I was better. Shazam went so fast my helmet flew off! Besides the fact that apparently I had forgotten to snap the chin strap. And I was pushing my head band out of my eyes which lifted up my helmet then blew it off. I didn't even stop to get it because he was going so good. And I knew I'd be coming back that way with Stormy.

Got Stormy ready and did not want the dog to go. But didnt' want to go all the way back up to the house to put him in the fence. So I put him in the horse stall. But after I got going he must have squeezed under the door and came along. This trip on Stormy was much less eventful. Seen only one car and everything went well.

The weather seemed somewhat warm to me. Because I remember having to zip up my jacket after getting on Stormy because I had it unzipped in the barn between getting horses tacked/untacked.

Snow riding isn't all that bad but I'm ready for muddy spring.


Nicole said...

Barry - yes, in the Midwest region...In southern Indiana. Not too many CTRs that I am aware of in this state..otherwise I would! I have a suspicion that those would be more my style since I'm not too sure how I will like the "race" aspect of competing in endurance. I think I"ll be more happy with completions, rather than placing in top 10. But we'll see!

Michelle - yes, that is a long comment! It was 20 when I left the house, 28 when I got back in, so it warmed up pretty quickly....but 20 sounded much more dramatic! ha! Your ride with Shazam sounds like it was QUITE an experience both both of you!! I actually like the snow - since Arabee is so out of shape and so new to riding out by herself....it keeps her from trying to be too fast since it's hard work! And Arabee really hates slick mud....I guess she'll have to get over it this spring!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole!
Greetings from florida! I don't use a heart monitor and have completed several years of LD CTR and endurance .I think that if your horse can keep up a trot for 2.5-3 hours you will be fine.Also there is a misconception about endurance-you can ride the same way you ride a CTR-you just won't "Top ten".Most endurance riders here that ribbon can do a 25 in 2 hours.I don't want to go that fast anyway.We still mostly trot and some cantering and I'll be at 3.5 to four hours for a 25.
You can start after the front runners go out which many people do.
Have you ridden your mare in group situations?Done leapfrogging?
Many of the girls I ride with during the week I also go to rides with.
My horse is used to horses passing him or leaving him-not to say he dosen't boing up and down with me alittle ! Or give me "brattitude".
But it will give you alot of confidence if you deal with this at home first!
Alicia and Synsation
Just back from Withalacochee 30

Anonymous said...


For CTR's in this area this is a good site. Go to the Calendar. I've been to a couple aerc/ctr rides in OH and KY. I've never actually done a CTR, I'm more an endurance girl. But I think some people, like yourself, would really like them.

Tazmania Trot in May is in Paint Creek, which is in OH. Not too far from Cincinnati. My friend Daunna goes to these so I know a little bit.

Cracked Oaats, is in Scioto forest, OH. I went there in 2008. Beautiful ride, much like Clark State forest and not really that long of a drive. We got first and second in the LD and got ribbons. But the trophies for the CTR were really nice!! I see there is another one there called Scioto Run.

Abi-Khan is in OH, Ceasars Creek. Very close to Kings Island I'm told. Nice, easy CTR from what Daunna tells me.

The vets handle the horses a lot more in CTR's. (may not be Phebe's thing, but Arabee should be fine with it) If you go too fast or too slow or it will count against your score. Horse should look like it did when it started the ride in order to get the best score. Well, you can read the rules on this site.

I don't see it on here but there is usually a CTR in KY at the Daniel Boone National forest in May. I will have to ask Daunna if she knows when they are having it this year if your interested.


Endurance Granny said...

What???? Phebes doesn't like the vet?

I actually wanted to do CTR vs. Endurance, but the travel for the rides and all of them being out of state did not appeal to me. Not sure why Indiana riders lost interest in them. The one I did was fantastic fun, and much more a thinking sport (rather than speed & fitness). The variables of the scoring was a lot of fun, because so much can weigh into the final score that the winners in the end aren't a given by how you come in at the end. My old mare placed second in the CTR we tried, I lost a point because she spooked at something on trail and scraped a tiny place on a hind fetlock. The pace of CTR was right up my alley...I like a nice relaxing trot (rather than a big trot). If anyone ever decides Indiana is the place for some CTR's I'd be first in line to sign up.


Anonymous said...

Light bulb moment! You and EG should go together to a CTR. It's not scary crossing the state line! Your horses would trailer even better together than alone. The trick to longer drives, or any, is to NOT tie your horse in the trailer. I like to put hay on the floor (as opposed to a haybag-so horse doesn't get caught in it)If they have a buddy and a good driver they will relax, eat, put there head up and down and be no worse for the wear when you get there.


Nicole said...

Alicia - what you described is probably what I'll do. SOMEDAY I think I'd like to finish fast enough to stand for BC judging (isn't that top5 in LD, or top 10 in a 50?) but that will be several rides down the road! I've done a little bit of group training, but need to do quite a bit more, really. How did the Withalacochee 30 go for you??

Michelle - you're right, I think the CTR would be a lot of fun, and while OH and KY aren't allll that far, Clark State Forest is only a 1 hour drive for me....I like that! Much easier on the pocketbook when it comes time to fill the truck with fuel! Back when I used to show my mom took me to Michigan and Illinois for shows....but it's hard for me to justify a CTR that far away when there's plenty of endurance rides practically in my backyard.

And EG - I do like Michelle's idea - we could split the gas money! What do you think? :-)

Endurance Granny said...

Nicole, if you have a good turn around spot for my trailer it sounds like a plan! I'll pick you guys up on my way to Clark. Have you figured out how you will contain Arabee yet? Are you going to tie her to the trailer, set up an electric pen? If we put our brain to it we could power both pens off my charger, just put a little space between the girls because mine in "moody". I will chew on the thought of a CTR but if so will have to go "RODEO" for a coggins...Michelle has not seen Phebes, the vet, and a needle yet :( Some days I need a "free" gelding.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole-
Well, last year at Withalacochee we placed first place middleweight The weather was bright and sunny-the miles just floated by.This year the days prior to the ride were stressful with the water system for our house breaking down entirely 48 hours prior to leaving !My sweet neighbor allowed me to bring my horse and various buckets and tack for me to wash in his washrack.$5000 later i have the best water ever...

Anyhoo-husband,son,horse and food were soon on our trip to lecanto.The pre-ride vetting was really windy and cold.My girls' group of four decided to go to "the dark side"and declare mileage only.Morning of the ride was still windy and overcast,first you were cold,then hot, then damp and cold again.Some of my very skinny friends had a hard time with this!I was glad just to vet thru and not have to come back 1.5 hours later. Back at camp we all enjoyed some of my mom's homemade escarole soup-yum.I think synsation would have scored in the low 90's versus 96 last year.
I'm going to have my vet come out and go over him and make recommendations .
We also have at least 6-8 international caliber riders at these rides(the rojeks bring about 4-5)so you feel the bar is definately raised!At thirteen we are starting to accumulate more wear and tear
than the younger competitors.
But we came home happy and just grateful that we are able to do this...
Alicia and Synsation

Endurance Granny said...


I wanted to add my two cents on being the last one out at the start of a ride.

It is the best place in the world to be....you have your own quiet pocket to ride in, much the same as going out on a trail ride. Many people enjoy leaving with the pack, the herd of snorting, cantering, leaping horses. Having experienced that with Phebes I hope to NEVER do it again! The difference in enjoying my ride was amazing. It only took about a mile to settle her down, and we just trotted along doing our thing.

Now Michelle is experiencing the same thing because she is AT THE FRONT of the pack in her own happy little pocket of goodness and who in God's green acre can catch her *LOL*?

Lida set herself at the back of the pack and did quite well with Doc getting her completions. Can't wait until you get to meet them, you'll like Lida. She is SO FUNNY and Doc is a horse with character :)