Friday, November 22, 2013

Conditioning part two: mileage numbers

Originally, I meant to include this in the first post.  Oops!  It should be easy enough to write lots just on the mileage, though, so I think that worked out well.

Instinctively, I want to consider my "short rides" anything between 1-3 miles or so.  Long rides are 8+ miles.  The reality is that our usual few loops are 5-7 miles, and at least half of those don't qualify as real conditioning rides when they're done at 3.5-4mph.

Relevant note: tracking applications are started once across the river, generally once we're in the park.  Any given ride has a half-mile warmup and cooldown that doesn't get tracked, and 'Fetti knows it's time to move out once we're on the park trails.  That decision came about when I was first tracking our rides, and we would frequently spend 20 minutes getting to the river even before we got on a real trail.  Made for really terrible time comparisons!  Any hissy fits happen in that first half-mile, so I don't stress over speed or consistency there at all.

1-3 miles: 3 rides
3-5* miles: 3 rides
5-7 miles: 5 rides
8+ miles: 12.55 miles, 8.24 miles, 18.03 miles = 3 rides

1-3 miles: 2 rides
3-5 miles: none
5-7 miles: 8 rides
8+ miles: 8.17 miles, 8.92 miles, 12.50 miles = 3 rides
+ 25LD mid-month

1-3 miles: 6 rides
3-5 miles: 3 rides
5-7 miles: 7 rides
8+ miles: 7.89 miles, 8.40 miles, 7.44 miles

1-3 miles: 7 rides
3-5 miles: 4 rides
5-7 miles:7 rides
8+ miles: 13.10 miles, 7.41 miles, 11.52 miles

October LD the first weekend.

*They need a category since clearly some rides fall in that lovely gray zone of 3-5 miles.  So.. there it is.  Looking at it, I think most are probably 5-7 mile rides where I forgot to start tracking for a mile or two.

Longer rides are hard for me to do for a variety of reasons.  I tend to ride in the evenings; longer rides mean I need to allow several more hours at the barn, and mean I need to get off work early enough for that to work.  I think one of our loop-trails is around 9 miles, and is back up on my to-do list after seeing these numbers!  Also, anything much beyond that (without adding loops - probably what I should be doing) takes me out of the park and into further sections of nearby park/forest land.  There's always a risk involved when going out solo on the horse into mountain-bike popular trails and crossing the highway.  My compromise has been to do those rides only on mornings/afternoons, when I know there will be people around if something goes terribly wrong.  That unfortunately makes late afternoon longer rides somewhat unappealing.

A handful of the monthly 3-7 mile rides are those out with friends and don't count as real conditioning - I'd figure probably 4 a month at least.  5 in June, 6 in July, 6 in August, 7 in September - although some of those may have been rides on a different horse, too.  So with those numbers in mind, I started doing a lot more 'real conditioning' at speed in August/September.

Due primarily to my work schedule, I mostly ride Tuesday/Thursday/weekends.  I rode more with a week off in September, but tried to keep to lighter works (or different horses!) on our usual off days.  Sometimes another gal comes out and does dressage lessons/rides, which is good for everyone involved - same thing there, I try to ride lightly on the other days since I know she gets worked pretty hard then.

We'll taper off the next few months as it's muddy, then work back into it in the spring.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Looking back, looking ahead: conditioning

I started using MapMyHike in May this year, seriously in June, so I have nice data I can look at to see what it is I've actually done with the silly horse.  (One catch: I track most of my rides, regardless of what horse, so my total mileage for a week that MMH shows may be slightly over.)

I can say with reasonable confidence that I've been riding 15-30 miles on any given week.  I was not happy with the level of conditioning we achieved last year and wanted to improve on it, so 25 has been the rough number I've been aiming for this season.  Per Mel's conditioning post earlier this year, I knew I wanted to aim for 1-2 long/moderate trot rides and 1-2 shorter/speed rides.  But.. I didn't actually start really DOING those shorter rides until August.  Hindsight!  The reality is now that I'm getting in maybe one long/moderate trot ride, two speed/short rides, and one to two casual trail rides that don't really qualify as conditioning, just mileage.

I think that reality is probably where we'll settle for right now.  A qualifier:  moderate trot really ends up meaning 'whatever the fastest speed is she'll give me', which brings us close to a 5mph average on longer rides.
*April rides (TrackMyHack): primarily 3-3.5mph
*May rides (TMH again): primarily 2.5-3.5mph
*June rides: primarily 2-4mph
*July rides: primarily 3.5-4.5mph, a few faster rides up to 5mph
*August rides: way all over the place! primarily (kind of) 3.5-5mph, a few faster rides as I started short/fast rides
*September rides: primarily 3.5-5.5mph, a few faster rides up to 6.6mph!
*October rides: primarily 3.5-4mph.  We didn't ride as much this month (or I didn't log what we did) since I knew we could start tapering off for the winter.
*November rides so far: all over the place with a bunch of not-tracked rides too.

Our flat section of trail is around 3 miles in total.  It's pretty heavily populated with hikers, dogs, and the occasional illicit bikes; my tendency to go out fairly late luckily means that most are gone by then.  This is mostly where I'm getting the speed work (5mph+) in, with no hills involved to slow us down.  The footing is excellent and the trail is such that I can see hikers before we're right on top of them.

3.5-4mph is reasonable when riding with friends.  I don't generally count those as real conditioning/work, yet I have no desire to take those out of the equation.  If I were always riding on my own, I'd aim to get our lower speeds up and default into something quicker.  However, I genuinely enjoy these rides with friends, and at least one friend is working on conditioning her horse in hopes of an eventual LD!

My current goals: amp up our 'default' trot to be closer to 5mph.  Move our Big Trot closer to 7mph.  (Both of those on the flat-speed sections, since my perspectives are all skewed when you add hills.)

My goal for this past year was to get that 6-mile loop of ours done with a 5mph average.  When I started tracking, it was a 3.5mph average, maaaaybe 4.  Now?  Nearly 5 when I'm not pushing her for speed, 5 when I am.  Improved!

I'm going to continue to aim for 1-2 speed rides as weather permits, ideally one longer one, definitely adding that longer one in when spring comes around.  I know there's value to riding less often.. but I know I need to hop on the pony regularly for a mental reset, so as of yet I am not comfortable planning to cut my ride days further.  Shorter rides, or just meandering around the barn?  Both totally acceptable and I will feel no guilt about not riding her harder or longer during the week.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sensibility training

Meeting a helicopter is my go-to example of sensibility training.  Aarene posted about that ages ago and it's stuck with me ever since.  After all, when would a horse ever need to deal with a nearby helicopter, especially in my neck of the woods?  Never, I thought.  It'll never come up.  I should know better.

It's hard to see in the picture, but there is a helicopter on the left and a fire truck on the right.

The answer is that Fetti looked at the field and stopped.  She thought really, really hard about it.  She wasn't thrilled, but she was tolerant and once we could no longer see the helicopter, she was willing to trot on.  Good mare!