View Full Version : Is 13 miles too much for first timer?

Fessy's Mom
Mar. 7, 2010, 11:28 AM
Now that I finally have a trail horse to enjoy (only took me 25 years to figure out that I REALLY needed one ;) ), I joined a local riding and driving club that offers a group trail ride in April. You can ride it judged or unjudged - how exactly do you judge a trail ride - is it time or ability to go through/over obstacles? And they offer 13 or 20 mile distances.

My girl is a 17 hand North American Spotted Draft that used to be a driving show horse but is now my dressage/trail mount. I've only been able to ride on the weekends this past winter for about an hour at a time and she does great, altho she does huff a bit after we do any cantering.

I assume this would be a three hour ride (?) Would that be too much for our first time?

Here's a couple pics of the big girl. I LOFF her :) Thanks for any advice!


Mar. 7, 2010, 11:32 AM
What kind of pace are we talking about? Mostly walk, or a fast paced ride, or whatever you chose?

Fessy's Mom
Mar. 7, 2010, 11:34 AM
I'm pretty sure it's whatever you choose. I don't know anyone in the club yet, so we may just be on our own to do as we please. If we were to walk and trot (maybe a little cantering thrown in for fun) how long should it take to cover 13 miles do you think?

Mar. 7, 2010, 11:59 AM
My girl is a 17 hand North American Spotted Draft that used to be a driving show horse but is now my dressage/trail mount. I've only been able to ride on the weekends this past winter for about an hour at a time and she does great, altho she does huff a bit after we do any cantering.

I assume this would be a three hour ride (?) Would that be too much for our first time?

I don't have any experience with draft horses, but one thing I have seen consistently come up when discussing using drafts in long distance riding is their susceptibility to tying up. If you research draft horses and "monday morning disease" you can find information. This article recommends a high fat, low carb diet for horses prone to epsm, which presents as typing up. http://www.ruralheritage.com/vet_clinic/epsm.htm

I would definitely research tying up and how to recognize it and manage it when it happens. If you don't manage it correctly or even if you do, your horse can suffer some severe health issues, including muscle and kidney damage.

I don't mean to be all doom and gloom. Horses that are competed over long distances are at risk for metabolic problems, and drafts are even more at risk. Therefore, it is important to know how to prevent or manage it.

I would recommend the 13 mile, and I would alternate a walk and trot. Keep checking her large muscles in her hind end to make sure they are soft. If she shows reluctance to move forward and her hind end muscles have become rigid, do not make her move as that will increase muscle and kidney damage. Also, if it is at all chilly, put a rump rug on her and leave it on her. I ride a National Show Horse, and I put on rump rug on him during chilly weather. He has a bigger rear end that the pure Arabians, so he needs protection to keep those muscles warm earlier and longer than the pure Arabians I ride with.

Good luck and have fun with her!

Mar. 7, 2010, 12:12 PM
I took my guy on a 15 mile ride for our first organized ride. We just did lots of walking and some trotting thrown in when the footing was nice. I think it took us a little over three hours, as we would also stop and graze a little or rest after the hills. It was just a fun ride, so we paid no attention to time at all.

I was a little sore the next day, but my gelding seemed to do fine! He is a TB that was extremely fit at the track but had about 10 months off, and then just light trail riding prior to the 15 mile ride.

I found it helped to take my friend and her mellow QH buddy with us, then my horse didn't try and keep up with the others that wanted to go faster or get all worried if he was being left alone, also make sure and ride at your own pace- don't let others pull you along faster than you need to go.

Sounds like a blast -enjoy!

Mar. 7, 2010, 01:01 PM
I don't know anything about the breed but just like with any other horse, you should slowly work them up to the distance you would like to do at the event. Sounds like you have another month to get ready so make yourself a schedule, alternating between arena work and trail riding with days off inbetween. On the trail, slowly increase your distance one day, and ride less but with more trotting on another day.

Borrow a Garmin Forerunner or any other such device so you can figure out how fast your horse walks, trots, canters. You can finish 13 miles in around three hours if your horse has a 4 mph walk and you trot just once or twice. Realistically, he's probably slower than that, so just trot a little more if you must finish within that time. If time is not an issue, just walk!

Conditioning and learning to read your horse is everything. Does he drink on the trail, does he want to eat when offered? Does he poop and pee, does he seem into it? Is he anxious, spooky, herd bound? All these things are important to prevent your horse from getting ill. 13 miles is not very far at all but if your horse is not physically and mentally fit then you will not enjoy it and might harm him. But you have time to get ready so Happy Trails!

Painted Horse
Mar. 7, 2010, 01:29 PM
You have a month to get in shape. Start exercising.

13 miles is not very far for a horse. A dog walk is 3 mph and is a 4 hour ride. A good walk is 5 mph and most trotting will be 7-10 mph.

Your horse should be able to walk 13 miles, unless it's a pasture potato.
Go do some rides each week between and now and your trail ride date. 1 hour this week, 2 hours next week, 3 hours the next. And see how your horse does. Even if you don't have a trail to go out on, Do an hour around the arena where you keep him moving. Or two hours around the back 40 acres. This shoud give you an idea of whether 2-3-4 hours on the trail will be a problem.

Mar. 7, 2010, 04:03 PM
I don't have any advice, but to start slowly and build up a little each day.
That is what I do for regular trail riding.

She is a cutie! I recognize her from a sales website I always check..;)

Fessy's Mom
Mar. 7, 2010, 04:46 PM
Toirider - thanks for all the info! Definitely something to be concerned about. I have her on a high fat low carb grain with that in mind. If I decide to take her, I'll definitely pay attention to her "signals". :)

certified girl - Dixie is definitely a "go" girl - not herd bound, but likes to move out on our trail rides. But I've crossed paths with other trailriders before and wasn't phased in the least that they were going in the other direction.

Lieselotte - good tips - thanks!

Painted Horse - that's what I was thinking too - that I have time to build her up. We have lots of wonderful trails near our house, so no worries finding lots of places to go.

Huntertwo - thanks! Yup, that's where she came from! :yes:

Thanks for all the great advice everyone. Keep it coming! :)

Mar. 8, 2010, 10:15 AM
I definitely think she could handle that distance if you're walking. I mean, my spotted draft guy did it last fall when we went on a camping trip where it was longer than that each day. But we all took it pretty slow (as all the gaited horses passed us, LOL) and took our time and ended up being out for about five hours.

And definitely look into the high fat diet (though it seems you already are!). Generally, I think any draftie ought to be on it, it certainly can't hurt!

Mar. 8, 2010, 10:43 AM
Thirteen miles isn't very far for a horse to go but what is the trail like?
There is the thirteen mile trail and then the THIRTEEN MILE TRAIL.
Lots of climbing makes a trail lots harder.
If it's a fairly flat trail then you should easily be ready in a month for the ride.
Have fun and don't go at your training all gung ho. That can do more damage
than good.