Friday, May 17, 2013

Slow, slow steady miles

This has been a Slow Week.

Following Saturday's traumatic ride and Sunday's vaguely redemptive one, I actually did manage to make it out to the barn on Monday.  Even better: it was still light out when I arrived!  It didn't really qualify as an actual ride, but we meandered around the barn (bareback) with occasional spurts of trot when I could convince myself I wouldn't die trying to post the trot.  Lesson learned, my work pants have an inner seam that is awful for my inner thighs with a bareback pad and a bouncy horse.

On Tuesday we dismantled a very well-built trail obstacle that should never have existed in the first place - ARGH! - and proceeded to have a discussion about how yes, indeed, we could go forwards on the trail without another horse.  Other than the handful of mini-rears, attempts to spin, and refusals to get in front of my leg (the last of which were met with 'okay, let's go canter ten strides then!'), we pretty much just walked three miles or so.

Then I went back to the barn, switched horses and tack, and hopped onto Fetti's mother with a nice cushy bareback pad.  Nice, bombproof, predictable pony; one very sore Fig, ninety minutes of mostly trotting later.

Wednesday, another two miles or so in the not-quite-dark.  Medium jog speed for most of the ride.  Life is always better when I can get off work, get to the barn, and get on my pony.

Thursday had big plans for trail exploring and timing and all that, and then morning errands went several hours later than expected, my trail riding partner for the afternoon wasn't able to make it out after all, and I ended up heading out solo.  The goal: intervals.

Five minutes into the ride, with Fetti giving me a lovely medium all-day trot, I promptly revamped that into goal: maintain trot as much as possible.  Mostly, I have a Big Trot or a teeny-tiny walk or a resentful trot when we're out by ourselves.  We can do all sorts of speeds with other horses, just not alone, so to get a nice all-day trot was really, really impressive.

So, we trotted.  We trotted the flats.  We trotted past a few people (they were stopped, anyway), walked past a dog & her person, cantered once or twice for good measure, stopped and stared at the place where the deer had leaped out from earlier in the week.  And then we trotted, and trotted, and trotted some more.  I really wish I'd had the heart monitor on her - I'll have to do that sometime next week.  A few times she said she was kinda tired heading up hills, so I'd push her to the mid-point or the top of the hill, take a walk break for a minute or two, and we'd head back into that nice easy trot.

The other major difference on this ride was that I started asking her to trot down some of the hills.  Fetti has a full-blown pony walk most of the time.  It's not even noticeably better when I get off of her, she just walks reaaaally slowly.  It seems like I need to give her real walk breaks at her speed during rides.  If that's the case, however, we are going to have to make up time somewhere.  Mincing down every hill at a tiny walk is simply not going to do. 

She does have to sit back and do a collected trot going down, though; I'll haul on her face and make her walk/back up/collect/something if she starts plowing down on her forehand, because that just sucks for both of us.  It's still tough for her, and she can't sustain it for every hill, but the pony's trying now!  Whether it's dumb or knowing terrain or what, I'm also asking her/letting her trot down some of the sets of steps.  She's awfully uncomfortable at a walk, it's not any worse at a trot, and the same general concepts apply - plus, at least once she took herself back to a walk after some particularly jarring trotted steps.  Good mare.

6 miles. 1h 22min. 4.34mph - without pushing her forwards into a Big Trot at all, and with a water/sponge break halfway through.  Very, very pleased.

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