"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are"
- Theodore Roosevelt
.....are all the things working against us. Time to be pessimistic. It is unrealistic to think I will just show up to my first 50 and conquer it without a hitch. I'm sure whatever I leave off this list will be the one thing that comes to bite me in the butt. I think it is always a good idea to figure out where the weaknesses are so you can improve them and avoid as much mayhem as possible. So....
- Gem historically doesn't eat well at rides.
- My piggy mare shuts it off at the ride. Could be stress related. She does eat grass along the trail and hay, but grain isn't appealing. I'm thinking of trying to water it down and make a mash. Gets more water into her and may be more appetizing. Have heard of horses that don't eat much on shorter rides because they just aren't hungry enough too. Multi day and longer rides are the cure for that. Will have to play around with this and see.
- Ick. Right now all my time is being spent just getting her spooky butt down the trail at a crawl. It's 3 steps forward, spin, high tail it back, turn around and start over. I'm not worried about the ride itself, but unless we improve quickly we won't be getting any conditioning miles in at all.
- I mentioned this has pros and cons. On the negative side is the complete lack of real trails at the barn. Oh, they claim to have trails, but it takes all of 10 minutes to ride them before you are back at the barn. That forces me to trailer which limits trails to weekends. Also, nobody else there knows a thing about endurance so I can't ask for help. I also worry about push back when I start needing her nutrition changed up as her workload increases. We will have to see how it plays out.
- Again, a pro and con situation. It is definitely against us in the short term. With only 3 days available to ride a week and the days growing shorter, I'm limited in length, location and miles. Not much to do about it but make the best of each ride.
- I have doubts that our current set up will work for a 50. She is a fitting nightmare: her short back makes most saddles too long, very forward girth groove causes the girth to pull the saddle forward over her neck, wide back makes wide saddle a must but tall withers makes it hard for it to fit and not rub her skin raw and she has lopsided shoulders that makes one side fit well but the other either too narrow or too wide. What I have now is the least evil and I do like it. I noticed a new rub mark from her new girth (oh and her girth is a size 20 which no one makes) so I bought a fleece cover to see if that helps.
- I don't want a trainer to tell me everything. Part of this sport is the challenge of learning your way through it. You become such a better and more knowledgeable horseman through it and you just can't pay to get it handed to you. It's all about how well you know your horse and yourself and if you make the right decisions to have a successful ride. Did you make the right choice about pacing? About feed? About hydration? Did you fail because you blew past a chance to give your horse a rest? However, it would be nice to have someone around to ask some basic questions to and see how they do it.
Fortunately that is about it for my known enemies. Most will flesh out over time and some I have no control over. I'm stoked about this adventure and if nothing else it will make me smarter and has the added bonus of lots of time and miles spent with Gem in the woods. Now if only W was old enough to join me it would be perfect.