Tag Archives: endurance training

A good day for training

This morning the weather was wonderful: mid 70s with a light breeze through the forest.  Anna and I took Dakota and Mystique out for some training miles.  One of the absolute best things about our farm is the direct access to Pachaug State Forest.

On Friday evening, we did 6.8 miles.  It was hotter, humid, and the air quality was awful.  Today was amazing in comparison.  We rode 15.3 miles at a 5.8 mph average (2:40 total riding time).  We have been slowly tweaking our tack for what we plan to use at the 30 miler in October.  We recently purchased biothane halter/bridle/rein combos and breast collars for both Dakota and Mystique from The Distance Depot.  I am very pleased with the quality and it is so nice to come back from a ride, hose off the tack, and hang it up to dry.

During today’s ride, both horses walked into some water for a drink on 2 occasions.  Both horses were calm and level headed.  Mystique even had a breakthrough when she was willing to continue trotting and pooping at the same time! It’s the little things that make me happy.  The only problem we had was 1 flat tire (boot that came off Dakota) when Anna decided the horses needed to go faster so they could have fun.  Dakota consistently over-reaches and strips a boot at about 16 mph (Dakota actually peaked at 18 mph and Mystique at 19.2 mph during that section).  Luckily, there was no damage (thanks to a bell boot) and it was a quick fix to resume the ride.

Anna and I both ride with a Garmin 310XT and we have the V-Max heart rate kits that allow us to use the watch to monitor the horses’ heart rates during our training.  Just like for people training for marathons or triathlons, the heart rate data is very valuable to evaluate the conditioning of the horses.  It has been interesting to watch the changes in their average heart rate over the summer.  For example, on June 7th we rode in the WGHA 1st hunter pace for 9.4 miles at a 5.7 mph average.  The weather was similar and Mystique had an average heart rate of 119 bpm.  Today, she did 15.3 miles at a 5.8 mph average with an average heart rate of 102 bpm.  For the same 2 rides, Dakota had an average of 111 bpm in June and 101 bpm today.  That’s a significant improvement in fitness.  And even better, I have no doubt both could have handled another 15 mile loop.  We still have 8 weeks until our first endurance ride, and everything is well on track!

 

Endurance training has begun

As some of you may have seen Anna’s Facebook post on Friday, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.  We didn’t go out to dinner or do anything special.  We are saving our celebration for later this year.  Anna and I have decided to ride in a Limited Distance (LD) Endurance race in October.  The one we have chosen is in Vermont and is only 30 miles long.  Others will be doing 50 miles that day, but we want to start out smaller and try it out.  Right now, the plan is Anna will ride Dakota and I will ride Mistique.  I’m pretty sure Dakota is already in good enough condition to handle the distance.

To support our plan, we are working to have at least 1 longer ride each week (typically on Sundays since that is the only day Anna and I are both available).  Since we will be logging a lot more time in the saddle this year, we decided to try out some different trails in Pachaug today.  Anna on Dakota, Alex on Nike, Alexis on Ace, and me on Misti.  We were planning for about 10 miles, but we took a few new trails.  One of the problems is the trails in Pachaug are not really maintained, so we end up riding the gravel road a lot.  That’s rough on the horses and not as much fun.   Unfortunately, the trails we tried out today are not the ones we will be using for regular training.  We hit some trails that were wicked rocky and there was no going faster than a walk.  We also went through a lot of areas where we were hugging the necks of our mounts to avoid having our eyes poked out by the pines branches.  I actually had to get off and walk with Misti for a while it was so bad.

In the end, we covered 11.8 miles and it took 2:53!  It was a significantly slower pace than our hunter pace speed last weekend, but the trail was much more technical.

What we have learned so far in our endurance training:

1.  Dakota can destroy some boots!  We ride all the horses with Easy Care Gloves on their front hooves.  Dakota tends to over-reach with his hind left, step on the neoprene gaiter, and inflict a mortal wound on the boot.  So far, he has proven this ability 3 times this season.  All 3 times occurred on the same hill as his speed exceeded 15 mph.  Something about his canter and over-reaching.  We are going to try him in bell boots to see if that fixes the problem.

2.  It’s time for some endurance style stirrups.  Both Anna and I will be upgrading to wider, padded stirrups to ease the strain on our knees.

3.  Triathlon shorts under riding breeches are much more comfortable than cotton underwear during a 3 hour ride.

4.  We need to do a shorter loop of 5-6 miles and then drop the kids at the house with the sitter keeping Amanda before going back out.  Alex and Alexis did great today, but they were pretty tired by the end.  After Alexis got off, I asked how she felt and she said “My legs are shaking.”

5.  There are no shortcuts in Pachaug.

6.  Both Anna and I need to drop a few pounds and spend some time running/jogging to be in condition to handle the mileage.  Anna is headed off to ice her knees as we type. I’m just going to bed.

Here are a few pictures.  Amanda was waiting for us when we got back and insisted on helping me wash Mistique.

 

Back in the saddle and hitting the trails

Now that the weather has improved, we are back in the saddle and riding regularly.  The kids are riding 5-6 times a week.  Considering last year my rides were measured more in “times per month”, the fact that I have ridden 4 times in the last week is a huge increase.

Last week, I took 2 days of leave.  On Thursday, all the kids were at activities, so Anna and I hit the trails with Dakota and Mysti.  I was our first longer ride of the season and we went a little over 6 miles in just under 2 hours.  We definitely were not pushing the pace too hard, because we were testing out a number of new items along the way.

Anna decided she wanted a Garmin GPS watch for tracking her mileage on the trails.  We also decided to buy 2 horse heart rate monitors that interface with our Garmin watches.  It isn’t a big concern, but more of a neat thing to have and see how the horses are doing from a conditioning perspective.  Since my goal with Mysti is to ride some limited distance endurance with her, it will be a nice accessory for training.

We did get plenty of water and Mysti is fine with it now.  The horses both did well, although, I’m not knocked out with the fit of my English saddle on Mysti. I have an Endurance saddle on loan that was used on a 4 mile ride this evening for the first time.  While that fit her much better, I’m not sure I like how it fit me.

Overall, we are off to a good start and will be ready for our first hunter pace in early June.