On Saturday, we went to a local endurance club meeting about an hour away. Lucky for me, another rider lives quite close to my barn and was willing to give Fetti and I a ride over. We were on the ponies by 10:15 and headed out for a moderately brisk ride.
We rode here at Calero with the same club last year, actually around this same time of year. It was hot, but we did 11 miles or so with a 4.5mph average moving speed. Sure there were some major uphills and downhills.. there were also a lot of flat sections where we could move out. I finished that feeling like I had some horse left and given a break, she would have kept going.
This year? I feel like she ought to be in better shape. I know I need to put some weight back on her, and I've nearly doubled her hay as a result (the horrors, the pony might get FOUR flakes of hay in a day rather than two!). Otherwise, though, we're training at a faster speed on a regular basis and I would like to think it has helped.
There were a lot of hills on the loop we did this time. It was just me and the other rider - with her Arab in 50-miler shape - and we kept to a pretty comfortable trot whereever Fetti was willing. I think our average speed was 5mph or slightly over for the first part of the ride. Then it got warmer, the hills kept coming, and Fetti asked for a few walk breaks. Looking at my phone-GPS climb stats, there really wasn't much in the way of flat sections. Total elevation gain: 2,450ft. We walked a good chunk of the last two miles heading back to the trailer.
Approximately 2 hours and 8 miles, so a rough 4mph average. Pony was willing to trot again heading home, but really just had to trot to keep up with the Arab's walk. Once she gets her walk breaks, she seems to recover pretty well (although I'm not entirely sure she drops to 60-70bpm all the time...) and is willing to trot on. She drank well every time the opportunity was given to her. She was quite sweaty by the end of it.
Lessons learned: Pony does need her walk breaks. Serious Hills are still not our thing. I need a scoop of some sort and really ought to order it ASAP if I'm buying one.
The fact that we're not consistently clocking 5mph training rides scares me. I'm not sure it should, but there you go - it does. We weren't last year, either, and we still finished (albeit barely).
Fireworks has more in the way of Hills than Ride Bear did. I know this because we've ridden them. That will make things both harder and easier: we know the hills, we just don't LIKE the hills.
Fireworks ought to be cooler. That is a HUGE plus in our favor.
Starting at 7:30 or whenever the nice early ride time is? Huge plus as well. That puts us at what I anticipate being the worst hill (for us) by 9 if not waaay earlier, still plenty cool.
Our moving-trot is a bit over 5mph, and I can get that trot even going solo. With other horses and (hopefully) a bit of race-brain, 6mph should be doable. If I can get enough speed in the first few miles, slower for the hill, trot through UCSC, and if our time doesn't look godawful at the vet check? I think we can do it.
I think we can, I think we can, I think we can.. I feel like the little train that could. I hope.