The last time we went out and did approximately this trail was seven months ago, June 2013. We went a bit further, but for purposes of comparison they're reasonably similar when you take that into account - I just couldn't justify asking her to go another two miles today. In June, we did 18.0 miles in 4h40 minutes.
Today, we trotted through a lot more of Pogonip. She wasn't necessarily happy or offering it, but when I asked, she generally went. That perpetual uphill was what worried me the most about Fireworks in July; I'm feeling much better about it now.
|Pretty awesome artwork on the trail.|
When she got tired/bored today, it was a very flat, strung-out trot. Nothing I did convinced her to actually engage behind and use her hindquarters, so she felt like she was pulling herself along in front. Looking at it now, she was still keeping a 4-5mph trot, but it was incredibly frustrating to ride. Her heart rate was fine. Maybe she had to pee and wouldn't do it on the trail. She just wouldn't get in front of my leg and do a proper trot.
To be fair, we did today's ride completely barefoot. I went to put her front boots on this morning and pretty well concluded that the right front doesn't fit. I didn't bother trying the left front since we wouldn't go with just one! We're five weeks post-trim. I need to remeasure this weekend, I have photos from Tuesday, and with the measurements + photos combined I will stall until her next trim and re-evaluate immediately afterwards. The boots were never easy to get on. Today it was difficult enough I decided they were too tight to even get the hoof fully in the boot. Once we hit spring, Fetti will go back on a 6-week trimming schedule; right now we're at 8-or-so. I know the boots have always been a tight fit weeks 5-6, but at the same time, I ordered a size that in theory should fit all through the trim.
The hundred-dollar question: have her feet actually gotten bigger, or is it just flares? If they're bigger, I may be looking seriously at new boots for her. If it's flares, I may be looking seriously at learning to maintain between trims. I may write a whole post on feet and post pictures later...
The combination of barefoot + unenthusiastic flat trot were most of what led me to turn around a mile earlier this time around. Fetti is still ouchy on gravel. She'll trot, but too many steps in a row that hurt and she breaks to a walk. That's fine. She picks the less rocky trail where it's an option. I know the remaining mile is fairly gravelly; it was a fairly warm day in January with her full winter coat just starting to shed, her trot was atrocious, we had nothing to prove. We turned around.
Uphill trotting had gone remarkably well heading out. I had high hopes for keeping a solid speed on the way home. I forgot to account for all the downhill.
I've said it before and I'm sure I'll mention it again: Fetti is not a great downhill horse. Unfortunately, I mentioned in my lesson post that my saddle was tipping me slightly forwards? I hadn't dealt with that yet. The end result was me sitting in somewhat of a chair seat, bracing my legs in front of me and leaning back, for pretty much all of our downhill trotting. I'm sore in my inner thighs and knees and am confident that's the reason for it. Pony was willing enough to trot sections as long as her rider was out of the way! Good news: we switched to the thickest fitting pads for the saddle after my ride today, and that looks like it should be better.
Oddly enough, our ride home was slower than the ride out. Sure, we walked various sections and didn't gallop up some of her usual speed-hills.. but I really did push her in both directions to see where we were at in terms of fitness. Apparently I did not push quite enough: two large spooks in the last three miles home: one at a hiker sitting on a fallen tree who moved his hiking sticks, one when a bike came flying down the road from behind.. not very far away from us. In almost the same spot as Tuesday, and practically the same spook. Oh, pony.. not setting a great pattern there.
Aside from a few minor discussions (no, you may NOT turn around here!) she was really quite excellent and gave me everything I asked for. Very, very pleased with the pony.