Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Got the chance to get out and ride yesterday - it was a gorgeous day for a ride, or really for anything outside.

I'd planned to ride for 135 minutes (2 hrs, 15 minutes), which was 5 minutes longer than the last ride. I was really wondering how in the world I would find enough places to go to last that long!

I started South and rode around, checked out some new territory. Rode around in the Polly field - my rule of thumb for whether to ride in a field or not is to ride out into it a few feet, and if the hoofprints I leave are no deeper than what a deer would leave, then it's okay. Even with all the rain we'd had Sunday and Monday, I was good to go!

So we went around and around, back and forth in there for about a half hour, following the woods and the creek bank, then down to the next farm lane we'd never ridden on before. So altogether, we did an hour of riding South of the driveway. Then moved on to the pasture across the road, and rode around in there for another 15 minutes, then headed north again to ride the lanes, filter strip, and road for 45 minutes, then rode around in the hog woods for the last 15 minutes.

I have no idea how far we went, or how fast. No clue. But we did a lot of walking, and a lot of trotting, and a little bit of stopping at puddles. And wow, the 4-H Horse and Pony Superintendant was right when he said: NEVER let your horse graze while you are holding the lead rope, or while you are riding - it leads to disrespect and the horse loses focus on what you're doing (riding) and starts looking around for good grass to eat. Wow.....I about got my arms yanked out of their sockets umpteen times yesterday more grazing for her. Here I thought I was doing her a favor by letting her graze on our training rides - well...she's going to have to learn to fill up on hay instead - I will not stand for any more of her motoring along only to stop ABRUPTLY and start grazing and ignoring my hands and legs as I urge her forward.

But, I have taken the hint, the mare is hungry - so her hay ration has increased, and I dug my hands into the bag of senior pelleted horse feed (what we keep around for Jack) after the ride and fed her a heaping two handsful worth. She seemed to appreciate it!

Not sure what to do - I think I'll try to ride again on Thursday.....but whether to make it 2 hrs and 20 minutes, or what?? Got a training ride planned for Saturday, so I don't want her to be tired out for that, but seems like going from Tuesday to Saturday w/out anything is a bit excessive rest-wise. Or Maybe I'll just halter her and go for a walk/jog with her. It would be good for us both. Any votes?


Barry said...

We, on the other hand, encourage our horses to eat on training rides. The difference is, ours learn to eat on the move. We don't let them stop to eat except at places where we plan to stop for a recovery.
All four geldings will move down the trail at a medium trot snatching grass on the move. Its a skill they easily learn. They like moving down the trail munching and a little extra moisture in the gut is our friend.

Anonymous said...

Is she turend out on pasture 24/7? If not I'd say ride one more time but it doesn't have to be a long ride. You should do a short fast ride every once in a while to mix it up and work on her Cardio. Or hills.

Even if you are never going to canter in an endurance ride you should not be afraid of cantering your horse and your horse should be accustomed to cantering on the trail. Just my mantra. You go to a competition and some people aren't so polite. They may go flying by you at a gallop or faster than you want to go and your horse may canter along for a while before you can get her slowed back down. (And it may even be a junior rider smaller than you riding an arab even bigger than your horse with their sponsor. It's happened to me but I didn't mind and was prepared.)

If you haven't cantered in a while start on an uphill slope or a hill. Don't canter on any downhill slope even if it is very subtle. Flat is fine but sometimes they can get a little bucky and you need to actually speed them up instead of slow them down to bring them out of it.

Have a good ride!!


Can't believe you guys lucked out to get two nice saturday's in a row to ride at Clark. Can you pray for a nice weekend for Chicken Chase as well?

~ C said...

Don't make every ride a long ride. Make sure to include a bunch of shorter rides in your program as well. On the shorter rides, do something FUN - like speed work, or obstacles, or playing a game. You want to keep this all fun for you AND Arabee! You don't want her to become burned out. Even a nice ride (or walk) where all you do is poke along and enjoy the scenery (and graze) is a nice mental break for them.

As for grazing on the trail, my horse never got the "grab-n-go" method down. He would always have to stop to at least grab a bite. But keeping the food stuff moving, and encouraging eating on the trail, is very important in our sport. Sinatra and I reached a good compromise in that 1)if I was off walking, he was allowed to stop and grab a bite as long as he was walking again before I took up all the slack in the lead and 2) if I was riding, I would dictate WHERE he was allowed to stop, I would tell him "Bite" and he would know he could get a quick bite or two and we'd get moving again. It ended up being a handy cue to teach since I could use it to tell him to pick up the carrots I had dropped from the saddle and such. ;)

Nicole said...

Barry - if she'd grab mouthfuls without stopping, I'd be all for that! Can you clue me in on a good way to encourage that sort of behaviour?

Michelle - she is turned out 24/7, but it's our little winter mud lot. We share the pasture with the cow herd - and the grass is too valuable as grass to let anything be turned out in our muddy Indiana winters. I'd hate to see how muddied up and bare the pasture would be if we'd have let the horses on it over winter. Once things are good and growing (probably April sometime) we'll start gradually allowing pasture access again until they're used to grass instead of hay again.

~C - Got any suggestions for games? Sounds like a fun way to spend time in the saddle. I was at Sam's Club yesterday and bought 3 giant bags of carrots. I've cleaned out one of my saddle bag pockets, and plan on dishing out carrot bites every so often. So I figured that would be better than nothing.

I want her to eat along the trail, I just don't want it to be her all-consuming thought as it has currently become.

Anonymous said...

This is how I handle eating on the trail. I wait until I think it's a good point to take a break and there is a grassy area. I dismount and take off my horses bridle and say "eat". I say "eat" whenever I see them grazing. They know the word now even Shazam. I don't do it every ride but on long conditioning rides I will. And Laura and I took a grazing break half way thru the second loop of our first 55 mile ride. The only way to get my horses to eat when they are all hyped up in a ride is to dismount and unbridle. Then they are out of "ride" mode and will settle and eat. It's very important for gut sounds, especially if you are having problems. I suppose there are many who never graze their horses during a ride and there are some who always do. I used to on LD's but not anymore. I finish them too quickly. But if I were doing a slow one I might.


Anonymous said...

How big is your big pasture? My horses are out all year long on their pastures and they are not muddy. (just in spots by the barn, gate and water trough) My horses are more precious to me than the grass. I had to work very hard to convince my husband & father-in-law that the horses needed the two pastures that they have. One is about 5 acres and the other is 10. I'd like to fence in another 15-20 acre field as well. Have to promise not to buy too much other stuff and do plenty of begging but it's worth it.

Last year, in fact we were able to cut and bale the small horse pasture once. It produced that much grass, even with the horses on and off it. I switched them back and forth. But when it got too tall I had to pull them off it because they were getting too fat.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog! I have also started (slowly) training for endurance while living, working full time and being married in Manhattan. I would love to get your insight on a blog I've started to help motivate me to be more involved in endurance and the horse community (especially among Arab owners ;). Do you care to check it out and send me some feedback? I would sooo appreciate it!

You're in my reader now, and I'm excited to follow along. Keep up the great writing!