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!