February 19, 2016

Working Hard

How could there only be 6 weekends between now and our endurance ride? Where did the time go??

Wednesday was Wyatt's gymnastics show and I took the day off work. The hunter pace had been canceled last weekend due to the cold weather and I really needed to get Gem out again, so I used the morning to go ride.

The BO wanted to come with us to start getting her eventer back into shape for the show season and she even offered to drive! It felt so odd to sit in the passenger seat to the trail head. I can't remember the last time I didn't trailer out myself.

Blue skies? What is this madness?

Tuesday night had brought low temps and rain and the BO, spoiling my horses to the max, had brought them in to the main barn overnight. She put them out right before I got there to let Gem stretch her legs and she more than obliged.

As I was loading my tack into her trailer, I watched Gem flag her tail, toss her head and gallop around her pasture. She kept coming back to the gate to check on me and watch what I was doing and then would take off again. By the time I went and got her she was breathing hard and was lathered in sweat. I briefly debated throwing her cooler on her for the trailer ride, but she dried quickly as I groomed her and loaded her up.

BO had never been to Croft, so we headed over there and began with the 6.5 mile loop that I know well. The footing was touch and go for some of it, but we got to move out really well. I kept the bit in and haven't made any changes to her feed yet since I had just purchased two bags of the TC Senior and didn't want to just throw it all away. With company, no repeated loops and the bit in, if she was punky on this ride the feed could easily be blamed.
What is this work you keep talking about?
The first loop flew by in a blur of chatting, laughing and having a great time. I was worried Gem wouldn't be able to keep up with the gelding since he has a much bigger stride, but she never fell behind at the trot. His walk clocked in at 4 mph and Gem can't seem to break 2.5 mph, so when we walked she would end up trotting a few steps to catch up, then walking and falling behind again.

Slow mare walking slow

When we got to the open section of trail that I love, I causally mentioned that this is where we usually canter and BO was more than happy to pick it up. We flew down that trail! I haven't uploaded my Garmin data yet, but when I looked down it read 13.5 mph which is booking it for Gem. We sailed down the trail and Gem was more than game to keep up. In fact, she had her Miss Competitive face on and was ready to go!

We pulled them up at the end when the trail turned to slick red clay and went down hill. Both horses seemed pleased with themselves and while Gem reeked of sweaty horse flesh, she was breathing fine.

The end of the trail came way too soon and we had completed the 6.5 miles in 1 hour exactly. Good girl Gem!

Neither of us wanted to be finished just yet and it was only 11 am, so we headed out to the bigger loop which I have never had the time to complete. I think this trail loops back into the one we just finished and if you do the entire thing it is around 12 miles or so. Dusty and I will hike with Einstein on that trail because there are less people and horses on it and it tends to stay drier due to a more sandy base. It is a mile from parking to the trail head and we headed off that way with my eye on the clock.

Heading towards the rive n the outer half of the park

Gem was still ready to go when asked and we trotted and walked until it was time to head back. My watch beeped 11 miles when we hit the road back to the trailers. The one issue with these trails is lack of water access. There is one water crossing, but it is way in the back and we hadn't made it that far before turning around. At the 11 mile mark Gem started sniffing the small water puddles hoping for a drink. I felt really bad that she was thirsty and there wasn't water to offer her, but I also knew we were only a mile out. About a half a mile later there was a large puddle by the road and she slammed on her breaks to drink. I yelled out to the BO to wait up, but Gem wasn't going to move from that puddle until she was finished whether or not her friend waited on her.

I can't wait for the leaves to come back and my world turn green once again

We ended up back at the trailer at 12 miles and 2 hours on the dot. Gem was pretty sweaty, but was bright eyed and happy. I had forgotten to grab her feed at the barn, so couldn't give her her typical mash and instead went to the water spigot to get a bucket of water which she completely ignored. I have never been able to get her to drink at the trailer.

Looking good at the end of a great ride.

She did get her soupy mash back at the barn and slurped it right up. She was still bright eyed and happy when I put her back out with Pete and she got in a good roll.

She still looks on the lean side to me and I think adding more calories will be helpful in the long run. She didn't run out of gas on this ride which was a great thing, so I am thinking maybe I over reacted a tad last time and it had more to do with her being alone, change in tack and repeating the loop. I still want to change up her feed to increase the calories as I don't think she is gaining weight like I would like on just the Senior feed. I can't wait until the grass comes in again as she does really well on grass. The BO pays close attention to her pastures too and sprays for weeds, re seeds and mows so I know the grass will be really nice once it comes in again.

Pawing is a great sign at the end of a ride with Gem. It means she still wants to keep going

Also of note: the FETA trails were closed Wednesday due to the rain Tuesday night.

This weekend is hopefully a hunter pace although they are on the FETA system. The weather looks sunny and warm the rest if the week, so they should dry out. If it rains at all, I would think they will cancel it.

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