View Full Version : How do you know when your horse is ready for a 50 mile ride?

Aug. 29, 2011, 01:03 PM
A little background on my boy...he is a 12 year old Arabian gelding. I started doing endurance and CTR's on him in 2009. We did three 25 mile rides in 2009, only 1 last year due to him getting injured later on after that ride in the summer (he's fully recovered now), and we've done 2 so far this year. He has steadily improved his times and this weekend we did the best we've ever done, finishing a pretty tough (lots of bush whacking)25 mile ride in 3 hours and 15 minutes and placing 4th overall. Both rides this year he has vetted out with all A's, and he still had lots of energy after both.

We do a lot of mountain camping/trail riding trips with our horses and at the beginning of August we went for 3 days and covered about 50 miles over the 3. Though we take it quite slow out there, mostly walking, but he did great there too.

My next ride with him is in 2 weeks and I am thinking about trying a 50. I really don't want to push him too hard though and I'm nervous! Maybe I am overthinking it, but I really don't want to push him before he's ready. I know I've taken my time with him and lots of people go up into 50's a lot quicker than I have.

I won't be pushing him for a fast 50 or anything, I'd just like to do a moderate paced one and complete it. For those who do 50's, how did you know when your horse was ready?

A couple pics of him :) I've been told he's too "heavily muscled" to do well in endurance but like I said I don't care about winning I just want to complete.

This weekend
http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/301315_10150761104820551_878020550_20402393_262149 1_n.jpg

At our ride in July
http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/271145_10150702498790551_878020550_19656330_783505 0_n.jpg

sign of Grace
Aug. 29, 2011, 05:22 PM
I'm still pretty new to endurance so I may not be the best opinion, but I'd say go for it. Absolute WORST case scenario, you option out if you think he's having a problem. (But that could happen even to a veteran competitor, you just never know on any given day)

I'd maybe pick an "easier" 50 to start with to see how he goes. And I wouldn't worry about what anyone says regarding your horse...I started LD's on a 17.1H Dutch WB and we top 10'ed in all 4 starts.

BTW, love the pic. You guys both look like you are having so much fun.

Oh, one other thing. Check out endurance.net if you haven't already found it on the internet. On the left side there is an icon that says "learn". There are good articles attached under that.

Good luck!

Aug. 29, 2011, 08:19 PM
We were at the same ride! My horse was the one who scratched his eye...we pulled after the first loop. The vet and I definitely wanted him out of the race, but we both agreed that was a disappointing reason! His eye is already much better, the vet said he should be good to go in a few days...fingers crossed! We decided to just drive home since it was still early and there was no way I'd be riding him anymore this weekend...long truck up to Fort Mac.

I don't have any advice for you on the 50...I'm thinking of trying it at the next ride too. Besides the eye, my horse did a lot better on this ride than I expected...but it is a big jump for us (finishing well after one loop) up to finishing FOUR loops. You have more experience than we do.

Hope to see you at the next ride...we're easy to recognize. My horse is a 16.3hh chestnut, and I wear all blaze orange when I'm on the trails!

Aug. 30, 2011, 10:22 AM
I'm also not a very experienced endurance rider, but your guy sounds about as fit as my mare was when our mentor recommended we do a 50. It wound up not happening because of non-horse-related things (stupid life getting in the way of horses :lol:) so I can't tell you if we were actually ready or not, though. ;) Our next one is near the end of September IIRC.

And FWIW, I've been told my mare is too heavily muscled for endurance too but she easily has the most natural stamina and best recovery times of any horse I've ridden, even when I first starting working her after she sat in a pasture doing nothing except getting fat for a couple of years. I think those things are useful as general guidelines, but if your horse is comfortable and happy doing the work I wouldn't put too much stock in it.

Actually your guy kind of reminds me of her, too. Handsome fellow, and I love the riding pic! :)

Aug. 30, 2011, 11:40 AM
Each horse is an individual. A paint horse placed in the top ten (?) at Tevis a couple of years ago.

Aug. 30, 2011, 02:20 PM
Thanks so much for your replies :) I think I am going to go for it at the next ride. It's actually at the same place that this last ride was at so I know the trails at least!

signofGrace > Thank you! I checked out that website and it's awesome :) Lots of good stuff to read through. I like that pic too haha I just love how happy Player looks in it!

rugbygirl > I do remember you! Too cool! We started out in the same group on Saturday didn't we? I love your orange get up! Sorry to hear about your horse's eye though :( That's disapointing! But I'm glad to hear he's doing better already and will be good to go for the next ride. If you decide to do the 50 let me know, maybe we can start out together. I'll be taking it easy though, my goal is just completing it for our first one :) Do you have facebook? We should keep in touch!

CosMonster > Thank you!! I think it's handsome too but I might be biased ;) Glad I'm not the only one on a "heavier" horse. Mind you at the ride this weekend I saw a few horses who were a lot more heavily muscled than mine completing the 50, and the one that won the LDR was a lot bigger than Player too and he even got best condition. Good luck with your ride at the end of September!!

HappyTalk > That's right! I think I actually a saw a youtube video with that horse in it. Very cool!

Aug. 30, 2011, 02:21 PM
I would give it a try. He is in shape and really what have you got to lose? If he isn't holding up well you can always pull him and know that he needs a bit more training miles. He is very cute and looks to love his job. I wouldn't call him "heavily muscled" but I don't have arabians!!

Aug. 30, 2011, 03:14 PM
I think I am going to go for it at the next ride

Woo hoo! Good for you, I'm sure you guys will do well.

If you decide to do the 50 let me know, maybe we can start out together. I'll be taking it easy though, my goal is just completing it for our first one Do you have facebook? We should keep in touch!

That would be awesome, I definitely want to take this one easy too. My horse was a little too excited about getting to the front and I'm going to be super disciplined about running MY race this time and not his. Having a buddy with a similar goal would be a huge help.

I'm still going to mull it over though, my horse is a big subscriber to Murphy's Law...if I make any firm plans/commitments, he WILL render himself unable to race :no: :winkgrin:

Aug. 30, 2011, 04:36 PM
Thanks candyappy! That is true, if I feel like he's struggling I can always pull and get a vet's opinion.

rugbygirl > Player gets excited at the beginning too and I usually let the front runners go first so he doesn't get that race brain. I let him go a little too fast off the start at that ride but after a few miles I held him back and let the girls who were going fast get ahead of us so he wouldn't try to keep up. I know I need to really focus on riding my own ride too, Player always wants to keep up with horses ahead of him even if he's tired so I always have to make sure I pace him.

Awww well probably best to mull it over then! Keep in touch and let me know if you decide to come. I really like the trails there, it should be a pretty ride in a couple weeks with all the fall colours!

Aug. 30, 2011, 07:10 PM
Do it! Pace yourself in the beginning and see how the day unfolds. 12 hours is a lot of time and you'd be surprised as to how slowly you can go and complete. If he eats and drinks and keeps his head about him, he can do it. These 3 things apply to you as well.

The last horse I started never did an LD. I felt I had enough experience to take him straight to a 50. We were slow but not last (despite my best efforts!). Many miles later, sometimes we are still slow (and last!). Just depends on the day, the trail, and our moods.

Have fun!


Aug. 31, 2011, 12:57 AM
After crossing over to Endurance (my horse from cutting & reining, me from dressage,) we conditioned for five months, did three 30s and then the first 50. We have never looked back ;)

I say go for it! You have a lot of time to finish a 50 and if you do everything the way you've been doing it for the LDs there's no reason you can't complete. Doing a 50 will give you lots of new insights: Does your saddle truly fit well? Can you improve your own comfort? Are you in good condition yourself? What are you eating and when? Do you hydrate well? How's your riding when fatigue sets in? How will you handle your horse when he is unwilling to go out again after the one-hour hold? (By now he has learned he's done after 25 miles...)

Things you have never noticed on an LD might become an issue when you move up to longer distances so be ready to adjust before, during and after the ride. And have fun! It'll feel like such an accomplishment to have broken into "real" Endurance distances ;)

Aug. 31, 2011, 11:06 AM
Just wanted to let everyone know that I am really enjoying the responses to this thread too...those are some really good internal questions Lieselotte, they will change my perspective a little for these next few training rides, things to be really looking out for. Right off the bat, talking about rider fitness, I realize that on conditioning rides at home, I get off my horse a LOT more often than I did this past ride, I'm happy to jog quite a ways with him, especially if the footing is hard. In the loop we finished, I only got off at the very last stretch coming in to the vet check...and my calves and thighs were pretty sore the next day! I think I should plan to walk/jog with my horse over the "road" sections on this trail next time. It will also help kill my horse's anxiety about being left behind.

My horse's eye is much better, we'll see how the workouts go...maybe I'll join hoofbeats02 on the 50 after all!

You'll know FOR SURE that you won't be last if I enter the 50, hoofbeats, we'll be WELL back by the time that fourth loop is over... :winkgrin:

Aug. 31, 2011, 02:25 PM
Thank you Lieselotte! Those are great questions and give me some perspective too. I think I've gone from super nervous to super excited to do a 50!! I was talking my game plan over with my hubby last night. Player really wants to keep up with the horses in front of him so I'll starting at the back to make sure he stays calm and slow and doesn't fight me at the start.

That is one thing I worry about a bit, heading out on the 3rd loop. He's going to wonder what the heck I'm sure LOL Mind you I have taken him on 7-8 hour rides out in the mountains (with lots of breaks of course) when we camp out there so hopefully that will help. Though it's a totally different atmosphere.

rugbygirl > LOL Well I'll probably be back with you! I have no time goals other than to be done for sure within the 12 hours LOL! I really really want to complete so I won't be pushing him at all LOL Especially on the pink loops, lots of bush crashing and riding along that fire guard so we'll plodding along there again like the last time.

I'm going to have to find a little backpack or saddle bag that fits behind my saddle I think. I usually just wait and eat and drink myself at the hold but for 50 I am going to need to bring some stuff.

Oooh I have another questions, electrolytes? I have never used them before but I am thinking I better pick some up for a 50? I see 50 mile riders giving them to their horses at their stops.

sign of Grace
Aug. 31, 2011, 04:19 PM
Oooh I have another questions, electrolytes? I have never used them before but I am thinking I better pick some up for a 50? I see 50 mile riders giving them to their horses at their stops.

Can I refer once again to the endurance.net website? Here's the exact link, as it talks about hydration in general. It is a REALLY good article. Susan Garlinghouse is a vet and an equine nutritionist AND she rides endurance. I printed the article off to read and re-read! You can never be too hydrated here (horse or human) in AZ!


Aug. 31, 2011, 04:35 PM
Can I refer once again to the endurance.net website? Here's the exact link, as it talks about hydration in general. It is a REALLY good article. Susan Garlinghouse is a vet and an equine nutritionist AND she rides endurance. I printed the article off to read and re-read! You can never be too hydrated here (horse or human) in AZ!


That is an awesome article! Thank you!! Yikes I was in Arizona (Tucson) in May I can't imagine trying to do an endurance ride there in that heat!! I guess you guys are used to it though :)

Romantic Rider
Sep. 4, 2011, 04:29 PM
I was in your shoes this summer, wondering when it was okay to start a new horse in 50's. I've done 50's for several years, but that horse had done them her whole life. I had an Arab mare who did one LD at the end of 2009, 2 LD's in May 2010, then got Lymes and Laminitis and did basically nothing the rest of the summer as she was recovering. This winter she got Laminitis again plus injured the heels on both her front feet. She loves the sport and is tough-minded as they come, and we were able to condition her this spring and did 7 LD's barefoot. Our last LD was a 35 mile ride on the toughest, hilliest trails in our region and she got straight A's from the toughest vet in the region. So I figured she was ready. I put shoes on her all around and she did her first 50 like it was second nature. Couldn't have done better and I couldn't be happier with her. I would have started earlier, but due to her history and feet I stayed with LD's a little longer. She's way chunkier than your guy. Bred for halter, stocky and big-muscled, and I was worried about it too -- but she does just fine. Pulses down really quick in fact. My other mare I used to ride was a big-muscled Anglo, and she won alot of rides and got many BCs. Muscleing isn't everything. I think your guy is definitely ready to try. You might be surprised. I thought it would be really hard to get her out of camp for the 2nd and 3rd time, but she just went along with the program. No complaining. I think it depends on how much the horse likes it. He'll probably do fine. :yes:

Trying to attach some photos of my dear little chunk. Doesn't she look happy?

Water crossing on her 1st 50.

Early morning on our last LD.

Rare shot of her at a gallop -- she has a 15 mph trot so she rarely uses anything else.


Galloping under the finish line bras at the end of her 2nd 50.

Sorry to share so many! Just so proud of her! Good luck with your 50! :D

Sep. 6, 2011, 11:30 AM
Romantic Rider > Wow!! Your mare looks great, I love all the pics! Thank you so much for sharing your story :D It gives me some confidence! I'm glad to hear she did great on her first 50. This Saturday we'll be attempting ours, I'll update here to let everybody know how we did. Eeek! I'm so excited!

Lisa Preston
Sep. 8, 2011, 09:53 AM
You are going to have so much fun at that 50- great way to end the season. Come back and tell all about it!

Sep. 8, 2011, 12:03 PM
I'm getting everything packed up today as I leave tomorrow for it :D I will for sure come back and let you all know how I did! *fingers crossed* I am just aiming for a completion :)

Sep. 8, 2011, 12:27 PM
When he's completed the 49th mile and is STILL standing!!!

Sep. 10, 2011, 03:31 AM
I was told by an old hand to regard each loop of the ride as a new ride. He said trying to think of 50 was too stressful when you first start!
The other thing is to try and do each loop in the same time. So if you do the first 25 in 2.30, try and do the second in the same time. It's really important to be able to gauge the speed you're travelling. If you have a gps you can check on the speed.

We do our 25's in 2.05-10, but if we're doing a 50 I slow right down to 2.30 - 35 for the 25, depending on the terrain.

Most of the time I'm more tired than my pony, at the finish. lol.

Sep. 10, 2011, 04:08 AM
I really think your boy is quite handsome :)

Sep. 11, 2011, 05:57 PM
Thanks for all the advice everybody!! Our 50 miler went GREAT! Player and I both did so much better than I thought we would...I shouldn't have been so worried! We finished with a time of 6 hrs 29 min 54 sec and he vetted out great! Just an A- in skin tenting at the end. I always get off him and walk the last 1/4 mile or so into the vet checks, and at the last one he was still walking out practically dragging me in! He was great! And it was so awesome to see people at the finish line cheering us on (rugbygirl :D!) as I walked him across! I love how friendly the endurance community is!

They have decided to do one more ride this year in October so we'll do another 50 there. I can't wait!!

Thank you smokygirl :) I think he is too but I might be biased!

Sep. 11, 2011, 06:13 PM
Well now you have confirmation, so you know you aren't biased lol.

Sep. 11, 2011, 07:21 PM
Fantastic! It's an amazing feeling, isn't it? Now you can't go back to LDs!

One of my horses finished his first 50 sidepassing in a trot, whinnying to all to announce his return. He's an emotional kind of horse and very expressive. When he got home and I turned him out, he was all full of himself. It's as if he knew what he'd done. He thought he was big man on campus and decided to chase the alpha mare. She was so surprised that she initially ran but you could see the light click on as she thought "Hey, wait a minute . . . I'M the boss!" She spun and it was funny watching Eclipse realize that despite his feelings of invincibility, he was not all that.

Hope you have many more 50s and one day attempt a 100. Once you finish a 100, you'll never look at your horse quite the same.


Romantic Rider
Sep. 11, 2011, 10:09 PM
Oh so happy for you!! Love to hear about people going up to 50's and loving it!! And all A's is fantastic! Isn't it great when something isn't nearly as big a deal as you are afraid it will be? :yes::lol: My little mare's first 50, we were picking up the pace the last 2 miles because one rider blew by us, and I wasn't going to try to keep up with her, but there another guy following that I knew would make a last minute move. So I asked Cheeks if she felt like cantering, and she went right into it. We pounded across the finish line a gallop, me probably laughing hysterically, and sure enough the guy tried to make a move but we beat him. And I was like, why did I ever worry about her? These horses are so incredible. They never cease to amaze me. And yes, I agree with what everybody else says -- you'll never be able to go back to doing LDs!! I promise. 50's are soooo much better. Yay! Have fun at your next ride! :)

Sep. 11, 2011, 10:17 PM
Love your stories SabalPalm and Romantic Rider :) They both made me smile! I am still grinning about our ride yesterday, my hubby is probably sick of hearing about it LOL!!

And you are both right. I don't wanna go back to LD's ever!! LOL! Player did absolutley amaze me, he was having fun and really enjoying himself. I am so lucky to have such a great horse! He's a blast to ride and such a goof ball, I'm so glad he handled 50 miles so well.

I'll be bringing my younger gelding along next year (I'll still be riding Player in 50's too though, most rides here are 2 days so I can ride one horse each day) and will probably have to do a few LD's with him to build him up to 50's, I am hoping I have him fit enough that I only need to do two or three of them before jumping up with him too. I was thinking of doing an LD with him at the October ride but it's only one day and I really want to do another 50 with Player at it! LOL! They are soooo much funner!

I would LOVE to try a 100 one day now!

Sep. 13, 2011, 01:19 PM
Way to go hoofbeats02! Player looked fantastic in the vet checks and at the end, it was fun to watch you guys come in!

Sep. 15, 2011, 09:33 PM
I just checked back on this thread to see if you'd done it and I see you have! I'm so glad it went well, congratulations! And if you can do a 50, then 100 can't be too impossible, right? :lol: ;)

I got the dates wrong, ours is actually the weekend of October 15. It's supposed to be a really easy 50 for those local to me, just flat on the mesa rather than up in the mountains, so I'm hopeful. It's also only a little over an hour's drive.

Actually it's a 2 day 100 (so 50 each day) and you can join the second day later if you want. :lol: I don't think we'll be quite ready for that, though... I don't know, maybe Lily will be, but I don't think I will!