Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Keeping Track

When it comes to my horses and endurance, I've learned not to set many yearly goals down on paper.  So many variables about my competition season are completely out of my control that I have to just take whatever opportunities I have to compete and enjoy them.  That said, I do have some career goals in this sport.  I would like Rhio and I to achieve Decade Team status, which means we've ridden and completed at least one endurance ride of 50 miles or more each ride season for 10 years.  2011 marked year two for us on this goal, although we completed our first 50 mile ride together in 2007, we did not do any in either 2008 or 2009.  I believe the ten years need to be consecutive, but I may be mistaken about that.  I can't wait to compete together for at least another eight years!

Another goal I have for Rhio is to make 3000 career endurance miles in competition.  We are 1/10th of the way to that goal, having now 300 endurance miles to our credit.  He's also got 180 limited distance miles for rides between 25 and 35 miles in length.   I expect he and I will continue to do some limited distance rides mixed in with endurance rides as seems appropriate at the time, although I do think that the shorter rides are too easy for him and he does not learn to pace himself because he can "race" them.  We have a lot of work to do in the area of "pacing" and "listening to rider even when other horses are in front of or passing us." I will use the LD rides as conditioning/training for him, and hope to concentrate only on having a calm, easily controlled horse whenever we do ride them.

I've mentioned previously that I would also like to ride in competition in every state where competitions are held (which is not all 50 states; conveniently there are none in Hawaii, since getting there to ride would be extremely difficult!).  So far I have 5 states on my list: Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Kentucky.  2011 was a great year for this goal - I added two states this year!

Living where we do, with long winters and wet springs, we do not have as much opportunity to accrue miles, either conditioning or competing, as we would if we lived somewhere with a longer riding season.  I expect it will take us a long time to reach these goals.  And that's ok, because I plan to be Rhio's partner for many, many years to come!

Red's log is the one on the left (obviously!); Rhio's is the one on the right

I keep a log book for each of my riding horses.  I usually ride with a basic GPS and try to record distance, time, speed, and a little bit about each ride in the log.  This has been a really interesting exercise, as it has been invaluable as a "reality check" when my sense of "we've been riding a lot" or "we've hardly been riding at all!" kicks in.  In 2011, Rhio and I did about 200 miles of logged conditioning rides, not counting lazy local rides with friends or arena work, and 150 miles in competition (two 50s and two 25s).  For comparison, in 2010, we did about 300 miles conditioning and 205 miles in competition (three 50s, one 30, and one 25).  In 2010, I rode him on 93 days for the year, and in 2011, I only rode him on 65 days.

I also have a good record of the weather via my log books; for example the first time the roads were clear enough of snow and ice to ride out was March 7 in 2010 and March 16 in 2011.  Our first ride that we hauled out to trails in 2010 was April 11, to Dago Lake (south of us and sandy), and the first time I was able to ride local trails was May 10.  Our first time to haul to a trail in 2011 was technically February 15, as we went to the local snowmobile trail because the footing was perfect for horses but too soft for the snow machines.  I didn't ride a local trail in 2011 until June 3; we tried on May 17 and it was still too mucky for the horses.  Despite not being able to get out on the trails until after the first Minnesota ride of the year (the first weekend in May), I seem to manage to get about 100 miles of conditioning in between March and May, all road riding unless we get to go somewhere south of here.

Similarly, I can see how far into the fall we were able to really ride each year, and at what point our riding became walking through deep snow (otherwise known as "resistance training," or sometimes I call it merely "mental health therapy").  In 2010, our last "real ride" before winter settled in was November 7.  In 2011, we still had open roads and trails through December and do not yet have any deep snow.  We do have some ice, and that's been constraining our riding, but we are not yet doing any "resistance training."

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