I must admit - I haven't ridden since the 50. I always give Gem a week off after a ride. Even for LDs when most people are back on a day or two later, she gets a week off. I figure it is only fair after having asked so much of her. It lets her mentally chill back out, any sore muscles can relax and she won't lose that much fitness in a week. If I ever venture into 75 or 100 mile rides, she will get an entire month off just to be a horse in her 35 acre pasture.
But that isn't the only reason for my hiatus. I'm feeling very much not motivated right now.
For the last 10 months my sights have been firmly and unwaveringly set on doing a fall 50. It is what got me out of bed at ungodly hours to spend precious hours away from my son riding alone through the woods. It made me push myself and Gem. And now that the deed is done, I feel deflated. Other than some minor tweaks, overall her performance was beyond my expectations and so I don't have the same level of stress to get me on her and get her going. Yes, with some more speed work and conditioning we could very well top 10 and with her CRI the way it is and her trotting so beautifully at the end we might even stand a chance at BC, but I don't really care to do either of those. An 8 hour 50 is just fine for me.
Don't get me wrong. I'm elated at the completion, her CRIs and our time. I'm so glad I made new friends that hopefully I can catch on the local trails from time to time. But having sought this one goal for so long, now I feel no push to get in the saddle today. What difference does it make if I ride today or tomorrow or next week? We have nothing to strive for right now.
It doesn't help that a look at the calendar shows no options for me until February. Right now I need to maintain fitness more than gain it and that won't require too much. Heck, to gain it I rode pretty much only once, maybe twice, a week all summer and she still pulled off what she did. She doesn't need many miles to get ready.
It also doesn't help that the evenings are now dark before I get to the barn which eliminates any chance of riding during the week. I'm going to use my week nights to start running to build my own core and lower body strength for the next 50. I owe Gem a better ride.
I've been toying with the idea of taking dressage lessons over the winter. It may help make her more ratable and might just help with her insanity at ride start. I don't own an English saddle though and feel kinda dumb doing it in my western based endurance saddle. I'm sure it can be done, but I have other reasons for shying away from this. Mainly, past experiences with bad trainers. My spare time is very limited too, so a weekly lesson means no trail time and I desperately need trail time for my own sanity. It is a trade off and I'm not sure the price is worth it.
What I think is a better and more feasible idea is to hit some of the winter hunter paces. They are close, way cheaper and a lot of fun. It will also give me a ride like start (they are staggered by 3 minute intervals down here) and I think more exposure to that will help us tremendously.
I'm sure I will get on her shortly. I just need some horse free time right now.