Thursday, May 14, 2015

Moving forward: the beginnings of a plan

Where do we go from here?  Mount Diablo established a good baseline:  five months off real work did not do us any favors.  If our end goal for this year is to complete a 50, Fetti needs to be in better shape.

Conditioning. At this point, I am not capable of trail rides at a 6mph pace at home by ourselves.  I often find myself frustrated at the standard endurance conditioning schedules, perhaps especially the advice given that you should be riding at a 6-7mph average before attempting a 25 (with the implied 'or else you'll break your horse').  For me, for this horse, right now, that does not work.  I think trail work is important to her conditioning, and we're not going to stop trail riding, but right now?  I want to try more of an eventing-type conditioning schedule.  This probably entails more arena work.  That will be good for both of us.  Hills are a problem for her, but our canter work is also lacking, and I suspect that canter work in the arena will aid with hill work on the trail.  Adding more canter will also help her overall fitness; we lost a fair bit over the past six months.

Doing some reading, reaching out to folks that can help with setting up a schedule.. advice welcome! Today we did ~3 miles in the arena in ~30 minutes, w/t/c, and she barely broke a sweat - but we both struggled to hold the canter together for any sustained period of time.. even 30 seconds is difficult.  Clearly an arena lesson is also in order.

Being passed on trail.  One of my April goals was to work on this.  I worked on it, and we can sort of hold it together in low-pressure situations (horse walks off, low-energy, etc).  Horse canters up hill in front of us and I hold her back?  I'm in trouble.  Part of the goal also involved giving myself an out: if it reared its head at Mount Diablo, I'd get a trainer involved.  It did, and I have.  Several rides tentatively scheduled towards the end of the month since that's the soonest our schedules coordinated.  I'm in over my head on this one, and I'm happy to pay someone to give me better tools and the reassurance that 'fussy horse' does not equate to 'bucking, obnoxious horse losing brain'.

Feeding.  Flax seed was spoken of highly at the AERC convention in March.  I'm adding some vitamin E capsules and flax seed to her usual mix of grain + Cosequin + kelp + aloe vera juice.  It's not ground flax (only power source at the barn is far away), but regular flax should still have an effect, if less so.  Inexpensive and worth a try. 

Given the amount of stuff I'm adding in - and the fact that I have someone else give her grain three days a week - I picked up some plastic containers to make my own mini-SmartPaks.  Kelp, flax, and vitamin E capsules all added in.  The Cosequin seemed like it would stick to the container, so that will get added separately; the aloe vera juice will get added separately.  Even so, three additions feels reasonable.  More than that feels like I'm making extra work.

all stacked up and ready to go

Gear: no real problems here with dressage tack, except that I need to ride with shorter reins.  Evidently, using dressage reins reminds me to shorten them more often and to keep them shorter.  I'm buying a second set of dressage reins : using dressage reins seems to shift me to riding with more contact, so I'm buying a second set (and the reins come with a bridle, too).


  1. i make diy smart paks too haha - they are way more convenient for the feeders. good luck with the lessons too - i hope the trainer will have some strategies to help the mare out!

  2. Oh boy, good point about the passing on the trail at speed- that's something I want to see/handle at home first before being out away at a ride! Sustained canter will definitely get pony into shape, good luck with lessons

  3. I kind of envy everyone whose horses will eat anything. Lol Lily has quit on both flax and vitamin E so Gracie gets them. Lily drives me crazy sometimes... And I too do the pre-made diy Smartpaks! :)

    As for conditioning plans, I still love the way this one worked out for me (the paragraph labeled "The Training Plan"):

  4. If you ever figure out how to ride at a 6 mph pace on that horse, solo, on your same old boring trails, for god's sake let me know. Dixie is just as pokey and obstinate as Fetti and I'd love some new tricks in the bag.
    ... but the answer will probably end up being "do good dressage work" like everyone always says. Sigh.