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.