Heat: the pony's major issue this year. Unfortunately, it may be mine too.
On Saturday we went out in the late afternoon/early evening to Waddell Creek. We tried a new trail with some substantial elevation gain/climbing and not a lot of breaks; Fetti was willing, albeit not thrilled and not flying up. Of the other two we were with, one was slightly less fit and needed a few breaks, and the third is a distinctly Downhill Horse who does not like uphills in any great quantity.. of which we had quite a bit. There was a lot of stopping involved to convince him to keep going, and frankly he was probably too out of shape for the amount of hills we were doing. We didn't quite make it to the top, but got close enough for a few halfway decent photos, and turned around to head back down the steep trail.
It's trails like that I feel like I should be able to get off and walk her down... but I know that I have a tendency to twist my ankle even in my Terrains. Steep downhill with not-solid footing and nothing remotely flat? I would be asking for trouble, and then I'd have to get back ON the horse with a sore ankle. I'd happily jog her down solid-packed or dirt roads, but anything trail-like, she gets to carry me down. When there's that much downhill, too, I don't get to complain too much about how she does it as long as it's safe and we stay upright.
8.81 miles. She was a bit tired at the end - a lot of straight up and straight down without much in the way of breaks - but was plenty willing to go. 3h10 / 2.78mph, so nothing brisk, just.. a lot of hill all at once.
Sunday morning I thought we'd head out for a quick ride to the Deck and back. Weather forecast said a high of 78. Tacked up, hopped on, headed out in the heat of the day.. and found that I had a pony decidedly unwilling to do a brisk trot unless I pushed hard. I did ask for some work on the way up, and with the heart monitor attached, waited for her pulse to drop to under 70 while walking (I'd love under 60, but acknowledged we were walking up steps/a hill at the time) and waited.. and waited.. and stood in the shade.. and waited. Pony got tired of standing in the shade eating and started walking ahead; HR still in the mid-80s. We walked most of the rest of the three miles, and it was STILL really hard to get her heart rate down.
Mid-50s at a walk is excellent for this horse. I'm not sure I ever really see much lower than that when moving - maybe every once in a while, but certainly not often. Working trot is anywhere from 80-120. Canter I'm not coordinated enough to look at the watch while keeping her going and keeping a decent position!
Our recoveries apparently need major work.. so the heart monitor is back on for every solo ride I'm doing. I'll pull out some squirt-waterbottles to try to cool her off, sponge her in every stream crossing, and cross my fingers we can get enough early speed to not be doing our final pulse-down in the mid-day heat for Fireworks...