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Preparation for an endurance ride?

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  • Preparation for an endurance ride?

    Hi, I have a 16yr old BS Paint Mare that I compete with in eventing. My room mate has a 19yr old Paint gelding that she also does eventing/jumpers with. There is a 25 mile endurance ride over rolling terrain coming up in our local area in 2 months. Our horses are ridden 2-4 times a week for an average of an hour. Are our horses fit enough to do 25 miles? What sort of program would we need to undertake to get them fit enough? What can we expect on a ride such as this? How long would it take? We have access to a large hill for conditioning purposes. All suggestions/comments greatfully accepted! :-)

  • #2
    Originally posted by chestnutwithchrome View Post
    Hi, I have a 16yr old BS Paint Mare that I compete with in eventing. My room mate has a 19yr old Paint gelding that she also does eventing/jumpers with. There is a 25 mile endurance ride over rolling terrain coming up in our local area in 2 months. Our horses are ridden 2-4 times a week for an average of an hour. Are our horses fit enough to do 25 miles?
    Probably not...yet. Neither are you...yet. But you've got a good start by riding already. You'll need to step up your program by following the link provided in the answer to your next question.

    What sort of program would we need to undertake to get them fit enough?
    Read this.

    What can we expect on a ride such as this?
    Read this.

    How long would it take?
    You have 6 hours to finish a 25 mile Limited Distance ride which includes time spent in the vet check(s). Under Limited Distance rules your horse has to pulse down to a heart rate of 60 beats per minute at the end of the ride before the ride clock stops, and then must pass the final vet exam in order to have completed the ride.

    Note: Horses competing in Endurance (50 miles/day and up) are not required to pulse down at the finish line. Their clock stops when they cross the finish line. The horse has a 1 hour window to present for the final vetting where the horse must meet at pulse requirement (usually 64 bpm)

    We have access to a large hill for conditioning purposes. All suggestions/comments gratefully accepted! :-)
    Excellent. Start using it. Have fun, ride more, get fit...and you'll do great.
    Last edited by gothedistance; Apr. 5, 2009, 11:13 AM.

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    • #3
      First 25...

      I would offer a different opinion.

      Yes, your horses are probably fit enough to do a 25 mile ride. That means riding, not racing.

      My thoughts, and also those of many who have been in the sport for a lot longer than me, is that any horse, that is sound metabolically and physically, and that is regularly ridden, can complete a 25 mile Limited distance ride in the allowed six hours.

      You will need to trot mostly and canter some, and only walk about 10-20 % of the time. Allowing for hold times, and pulse down times, you need only average about 5 mph to complete.

      We are assuming that you do a lot of arena work with the horses and collect their canters well. Spend some time on trail holding the trot or canter for long (several miles) periods.

      A few weeks ago, I just completed a 55 mile ride with a new horse. He had just turned 5, and we didn't do any LD's with him last year. Our training was on very rough and hilly ground, while the ride was in sand. We rode about twice a week and averaged a little over an hour per ride. We did trot and canter almost the entire time. There was a couple of rides over two hours. We completed in 7:57 , which was last place, but who cares?

      To para-phrase a famous endurance saying " The hardest thing about endurance riding is filling out the entry form." .

      Just do it and have fun. Do not over train and show up with a tired and sore horse. Relax and experience the ride. You will have a great time and do fine.

      Paul N. Sidio
      Spokane MO

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      • #4
        Originally posted by psidio View Post

        My thoughts, and also those of many who have been in the sport for a lot longer than me, is that any horse, that is sound metabolically and physically, and that is regularly ridden, can complete a 25 mile Limited distance ride in the allowed six hours.
        ditto....

        any horse you can't pull out of the stall to ride for at least 25 miles needs help. (exluding oldies but goodies and the broken pasture puffs that are living out their days in a green nirvana)

        Comment


        • #5
          Paul -

          In the past, I would have said the same thing -- not wanting to discourage anyone from trying an LD with a horse trained for another sport.

          Now I know better. Several times I've taken eventing people -- who all assure me both they and their horse are quite fit! -- on casual 25 mile rides...taking the whole 6 hours....and they have NOT done as well as I -- or they -- would have hoped. One horse (competing at Training Level) actually developed a mild case of colic after the ride was over -- despite the fact that the rider had mostly walked for the whole 12 miles back home (after a 45 minute "hold" with lots of grazing) because the horse was just getting too tired.

          Am I now a bit leery of people who train for other sports thinking they can do even something we see as simple as an LD distance right off the bat? You bet.

          You and I compete in Endurance on Arabs (or, in my case a part Arab) which are considerably more geared to going long distances, even when unfit. Not so for the average horse that is ridden for "1 hour" 3-4 days a week. How ridden? Trotting around the ring doing dressage or jumps? Walking out on a hack? This does not make them fit enough for distance.

          I know with my Welsh ponies doing the VVMM that I had to get out every other day and do my conditioning of them by the miles, not by the clock. My goal was to have each of my 4 do a 25 mile ride by the end of the month -- which was beautifully accomplished. The pace was not fast, and the terrain probably much flatter than what the OP is going to face, and my ponies were VERY fit (much in part to the fact that the Welsh ponies bloodlines have very heavy doses of Arab infused in the early development (1920-1940's)... EXTREMELY heavy doses!!), and they did a super job. (The endurance pony was just barely warmed up and ready to go another 25 miles, no sweat so he got to go on several LD distances the following set of days.)

          I really want to be realistic with the OP -- non-Arab breeds need more time to condition, and more attention to detail of what they will be facing. Rolling terrain -- which is what the OP says the trail will be -- is extremely difficult and highly deceptive. It is constant work for the muscles with little break, yet never looking strenuous enough to the point of having a rider will feel they should get off and walk. Frankly, if they said they were foxhunters, I'd immediately tell them to go for it! But eventers? Ride an LD right out of the box? Nada. They just don't ride enough miles at the pace they will need to go for an LD. No one wants to be discouraged by being told it is no big deal -- then finding out those miles and terrain ARE a hard challenge for the unprepared.

          If they follow the outline of conditioning that I've pointed out to them, then they will do great. But they have to ramp up the miles, and pick up the pace -- not just looking at the clock for their rides, but at the speed and the miles VS. the clock

          The hardest thing about endurance riding isn't filling out a form -- it is getting on the horse and REALLY putting the time and effort AND MILES into getting both them, and the rider, in fit shape for being out on the trail for a maximum of 6 hours.

          Glad to hear your new one is doing well. Give Piper a hug and a kiss for me!

          Icecapade - I hope you aren't serious. Anyone thinking they can pull a horse out of a stall and do 25 miles is both an idiot...and cruel. Maybe if they walked alongside the horse 1/2 the way.... But good luck finding anyone willing to put that much distance on their own feet!

          Flora
          Last edited by gothedistance; Apr. 6, 2009, 05:38 PM.

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          • #6
            I pretty much agree with gothedistance..........it is really common for endurance riders to say that any horse can do a 25 but I think you have to be careful with that line of thinking. Especially when it comes to non-Arabs and older horses. Also factors like how calm your horse is in new experiences and on the trail with other horses. I have gone out on conditioning rides with my friends before- just rides of about 12 or 14 miles in which we kept up a 5 or 6 mph pace and their horses were pretty beat afterwards.... and these were horses in decent shape.

            I've said this before, but my gauge would be to condition on the trails once or twice a week in addition to your regular riding.......work up to doing about 15 miles in about 3 hours. If you and your horse can do that easily and look and feel normal afterwards, you are probably ready for a 25. Assuming of course that the conditions are similar- how much climbing is there, what is the footing like, temperature, etc.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              thanks for all of your input so far, and I would love more. To clarify, my horse is very calm and relaxed when in new places and on trail rides with multiple/new horses. My friends horse is fine when with my horse. We don't do very much of our work in an arena, one lesson a week working on dressage, with the other rides being hacking out/ conditioning over the same terrrain as the competition at both the trot and canter. How do you guys measure the distances you are going? I can do timed trot or canter sets no problem, but where we ride isn't on roads or anything. What is the best way to measure distance. In case it matters, horses are body clipped, and competition is in Kentucky in June.

              Comment


              • #8
                The best way to measure distance and pace is to use a GPS. Something like a Forerunner 201 is great. The GPS will give you a ton of information that makes it so much easier to chart your progress.

                In lieu of that, find a 1 mile measured (flat) distance ...and trot it at the speed the horse normally trots. At the end of the mile check your watch and see how long it took. Do it three or four times, and take an average of time/distance. That will give you a working idea of how fast your horse travels. You can actually do a good job planning your ride by the watch.

                You want to aim for an average of 5-6 mph overall for the ride...which means you want to be moving along at about 7-9 mph when you are moving because the vet checks will suck up some of the allotted time.

                Excellent that your horses are body clipped -- the less hair to trap the heat, the better ... especially in Kentucky in June! That's just as miserable as Virginia in June!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Getting a GPS is best for measuring distance.
                  If you dont have one, I would estimate that a working trot is about 8 mph, a walk is about 3 mph. Of course, these are just estimates. But if you spend about half of your time walking and half trotting, with a little canter thrown in here and there, that is a little over 5 mph overall, which is the slowest pace that will allow you to complete a 25, and a good pace for a first ride. If you can go at a pace like that for 3 hours, you should be OK.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by saratoga View Post
                    Getting a GPS is best for measuring distance.
                    If you dont have one, I would estimate that a working trot is about 8 mph, a walk is about 3 mph. .
                    I agree with this. My little arab works at a steady easy trot at 8 mph, lope is not much faster at 9 mph and a really extended trot is 12 mph.
                    A gps records distance travelled, average speed, maximum speed and has a built in clock for both the time of day and the time on trail.
                    For conditioning I choose places to go, ice cream places, places to grab breakfast and rode to them to make things fun, a destination.
                    As for walking or running beside the horse I always did this as my part of the relationship and besides it was good for me...
                    We also had a top quarter horse but even though he was conditioned the exact same as the arabs he had alot more trouble with the 50's because of his muscle mass.
                    Also your butts will get sore with that many hours in the saddle so you will hurt a little too. I wear half chaps to protect the lower leg from stirrup leather burn.
                    good luck and have fun

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Endurance ride experience

                      I took two horses last year to an endurance . think we probably ride ours as much as you do yours as it sounds.

                      My horsesare both 10 years old. One is a beefy Appendix Quarter Horse and the other a Pony of America. I rode the 15 mile and both horses did well and came in with pulse rates in the 50's. My AQ probably could not have done the 25 miler but the POA probably could have done it. I did pace them slower than some of the other riders Other people at my stable conditioned their horses more by taking them to the parks in the area and riding for hours at a time. These horses seemed to do alot better. I guess I would say it would depend on alot of circumstances together - age of the horse, breed of the horse and the amount of conditioning. SOme breeds will do better without as much conditioning as did my POA.

                      You can always try, the vet will tell you if he/she thinks it is not a good idea to go on.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I little bit of a spin-off, but I've been following this thread with interest because I'd like to do some endurance this summer too. I want to do a 50 by the end of the summer, but will probably do a 25 or two to get my feet wet. You guys say Arabs condition differently; what about TBs? I ride every day, 3rd/4th dressage and small (under 3') jumping and get a 10 mile trot/gallop conditioning ride in at least once a week. We average 15 mph or more. His resting pulse is >30. He's been in this level of work for over a year. What else should I be doing for a 50? Also, what rides are there near central OH?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by helent623 View Post
                          I little bit of a spin-off, but I've been following this thread with interest because I'd like to do some endurance this summer too. I want to do a 50 by the end of the summer, but will probably do a 25 or two to get my feet wet. You guys say Arabs condition differently; what about TBs? I ride every day, 3rd/4th dressage and small (under 3') jumping and get a 10 mile trot/gallop conditioning ride in at least once a week. We average 15 mph or more. His resting pulse is >30. He's been in this level of work for over a year. What else should I be doing for a 50? Also, what rides are there near central OH?

                          You sound like you are ready for a 25!
                          If you do some 25s this spring and summer and you and your horse do great, you can probably do the 50 (always assuming the 50 isnt much tougher as far as terrain, etc. goes).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ok so I googled horse heart rate monitor and the cheapest is like $80 Can I rig a person HRM to work on him? Or do they come up on ebay very often? Bear with me, I'm a poor college student...
                            ETA: Or is there any other way I can monitor his workouts, like breath rate or something?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I had a borrowed heart rate monitor years ago and it was really neat, but you really dont NEED one. Just pay attention to your horse, be conservative, slow down when you can tell he is getting tired or wants to take a break, and monitor how he does after your conditioning rides or endurance rides. Horses may be a little tired, that is OK, but signs that you may have overdid it is if the horse doesnt want to eat, legs are very stocked up, bad grumpy attitude, sore back, dead look in the eye, etc.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                How to convert a human HRM for a horse was just posted by Endurance rider on her blog a few days ago:

                                http://endurancerider.blogspot.com/2...e-monitor.html

                                I haven't tried it but it doesn't seem too hard to do.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Endurance rides ohio

                                  Originally posted by helent623 View Post
                                  I little bit of a spin-off, but I've been following this thread with interest because I'd like to do some endurance this summer too. I want to do a 50 by the end of the summer, but will probably do a 25 or two to get my feet wet. You guys say Arabs condition differently; what about TBs? I ride every day, 3rd/4th dressage and small (under 3') jumping and get a 10 mile trot/gallop conditioning ride in at least once a week. We average 15 mph or more. His resting pulse is >30. He's been in this level of work for over a year. What else should I be doing for a 50? Also, what rides are there near central OH?
                                  I do a wonderful endurance ride every year in Ohio. It is in the Peninsula area. I know this is more North. I don't know where you are located, but this ride is definitely worth the trip. You can find the details at the following website www.oaats.org I think the ride is in late July this year.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    A couple more things...
                                    1. Try out your rain gear ahead of time. Really ride in it, for several hours. It's no fun riding for hours when soaked through to the skin.
                                    2. Get a quarter sheet for your horse in case you are riding in wet, cold weather. I bought a "Bun Warmer" that ties to the back of my saddle and can be rolled up when not in use. It's very helpful to prevent cramping. It's water proof.
                                    3. Even though your horse has always been calm in group rides, the atmosphere at the start of an endurance ride is amped up. There will be many horses travelling along at speed. When your horse is fresh and he realizes what is up, he's likely to be stronger than he's ever been. Consider tactics to cope with this.
                                    4. The long-slow-distance work mentioned above will give you an idea of good pacing for your horse. I've seen people allow their horses to wear themselves out at the beginning of a ride "to take the edge off". Just because they feel like running doesn't mean they are actually up to it for the distance. Adrenaline takes over, and your horse may overwork himself early on. You've got to know your horse and get an idea for what it takes to do some serious mileage.
                                    5. Consider having your farrier apply pads under the shoes for a ride on rocky terrain.
                                    This is all coming from a person who has only done up to 30-mile rides, so take it for what it is worth. I've ridden a number of different breeds over the years, and I can say that they are all different. Some horses have a bravado that can be misleading, so you really have to take the time to get to know your horse during the miles and hours it takes to complete a ride. Horses who are inadequately prepared or inappropriately ridden for a competition can end up colicking or tying up.

                                    It's good that you are doing your homework beforehand. You are more likely to have a great ride and a healthy horse because of it.

                                    Oh, and plan your shoeing schedule around the ride. I'd think you wouldn't want to shoe them more than two weeks before the ride. Longer than that and he'll have long toes that will take more work to move along the trail. Overly long toes take a toll on their legs. I don't shoe, but I like to allow two weeks between the most recent trim and a competetive ride. Others may have different opinions. I worry about bowed tendons when I see horses with long toes at these rides, not to mention the tendency to land toe first and stumble when fatigued. Yikes.
                                    Last edited by matryoshka; Apr. 20, 2009, 01:05 PM.
                                    "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

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