Getting Into Endurance Riding with my Current Horse
I have a question for everyone. I am looking to get into endurance riding with my current horse. I would not do a ride until October so he has time to get into condition. Before I ask my question, here is some information about my horse:
I have a 19 year old TB gelding who is in good shape and I was thinking of doing some novice endurance rides of 15 miles on him. What I am concerned about is that he has Heaves and Anhidrosis but both of them are under control and do not inhibit him. I would not be doing any rides in extreme heat or cold. He is currently ridden 5 days a week and the average ride is about 30-45 minutes minutes. I am not looking to do anything more then novice rides on him as I do not want to push him to much. He was a race horse for about 4 years and then was a show horse, he did hunter/jumper shows, until 4 years ago when I bought him. Now we just do dressage/flat work.
Now for my question: What is your personal opinion regarding this horse doing novice rides? Is it too much of a risk or is it possible to do? Also, has anyone ever done one on a horse similar to mine? How did it go?
Of course I will have to start training him to do longer rides and talk with my vet before I do anything. I just would like everyone's opinions. Thanks!!!
You should have about three and a half hours to ride 15 miles, which works out to an average of ~5 miles per hour. Of course, if your horse is able, you can ride faster. But you say he's working less than an hour at a time currently - there is a big difference in effort (lung-wise and cooling-wise) between what you are currently doing and what you are thinking of asking him to do. It may be that at his current level, the heaves and anhydrosis isn't an issue because of his current level.
Certainly, talk to your vet. You can also get a suggested fitness training plan (SERA has some good materials) and see about working your horse up to more fitness, honestly evaluating him before you move up to the next step of the plan. It may be that he can do it, or it may be that he can improve from where he is now but not enough to do 15 mile.
I will say that I dont have first hand experience with heaves or anhidrosis, but I would think that he could do 15 miles. I'm not really sure what a "Novice endurance ride" is- if you are in the US, sometimes rides of 12-15 miles are held in conjunction with AERC rides, but they are called "Fun Rides". there is usually no judging and no time frame that you have to complete in. they are really just trail rides.
Anyway, I would just up his riding time a bit; if you can do 10-12 miles at the pace you plan to do the 15, he should be just fine. Also, factor in what you would expect his behavior to be like at an endurance ride- like, will he be eating and drinking normally, and Tbs. can tend to get worked up in company so if thats the case, keep that in mind as something can could limit his ability.