Thursday, September 12, 2013

20 Mile Jaunt *update*

**I talked about so many #'s because I had this awesome figure from Endomondo and then I forgot to add it! Added now!**

Friday morning I enlisted the help of my BO’s husband so Q and I could be dropped off about 20 miles away so we could ride home. I am beyond fortunate to have such close access to the rail trail (railroad grade turned into a trail system) from my barn. I am also beyond fortunate to have great friends in my BO and her husband who have made it possible for me to have access to a trailer whenever I want & help me out in times like this.

I’d never attempted this distance on the rail trail with Q before. It was also my first time riding from town to town on the trail. As a result, the first 4 miles were pavement. (The section I ride most often from the barn is the pea gravel section that extends for ~13 miles of the trail between the two towns.) Fortunately, there was a very large grass berm for most of this section that Q was able to utilize.
Our mile splits from the get go weren’t shabby, but they kept dropping as we went on. I was super happy with Q’s trot. She was relatively focused on getting down the trail at a good pace, too. 

I thought I would canter her much sooner during the ride, but I was so caught up in how awesome her trotting statistics were that I just wanted to see how well she’d continue to perform at that gate as she got warmer and looser and fell into a rhythm. And thus, we trotted for the first 7 miles. 

I LOVE having Endomondo talk to me for rides on the rail trail like this. In the woods (i.e., the trails with added hills and varied terrain) I don’t really care WHAT my splits are AT ALL. Too much is varied from terrain for me to be focused on it. All I care about then is how the overall distance and time matched up. If I’d been in some make believe timed ride, would I have been in in time and met the CRI? 

But the rail trail? The relatively flat rail trail? This is where I have a tendency to obsess a bit over the numbers. The terrain is flat and has great footing. Why not rate her speed at the trot and canter and see where she is comfortably? I don’t ask too greatly of her, just that she maintain a steady, constant speed for each mile, and ask a tiny bit more as time goes on. 

For the first 4 miles I asked nothing. Just that she stick to the trot as much as possible. I wasn’t even greatly aware of her steady increase in pace except when Endomondo would notify me. After 4 straight miles of lower and lower mile splits, I asked her to give me a little more. She obliged again and again. We maxed out with a mile that averaged a 9.42 mph trot. (I switched diagonals posting at a steady frequency to even everything out, too.)

Split times above each bar; average speed written within each bar. Rabbit on fastest and turtle on slowest splits.

The mile after she didn’t get any faster, actually dropping 0.42 mph, I asked for a canter. I was ready for a change in motion and figured she’d enjoy a break, too. She was such a good girl through that canter period. It was through an area where the railroad grade had cut through the mountain so it was dark with looming rocks that usually spook a horse. I talked to her as we passed through and she didn’t falter a single step.

After this canter spurt our split times increased as our speed slowed. I went off trail to visit two friends, pausing Endomondo during spurts of no traveling. We spent nearly an hour between two visits. It was a good break for both of us. Q even got some fly spray from the second friend.

From there it was right back out onto the trail and we picked up a great trot pace again for the next 6 miles averaging 8.9 mph. 

With all of that trotting, and the sketchier - in terms of possible things to spook at - out of the way, I pushed her into a canter for the last few miles of the trail that she is most familiar with. 

This went wonderfully. She cantered at a steady cadence, intermittently stretching long and low with her neck to stretch her back. I was so proud of her.

And then she saw sunlight dancing off the grey bark of a tight-barked tree and she SLAMMED on the brakes.

Now, I don’t know if I didn’t have my heels down or eyes up enough. Perhaps this was my fault – at least in part – but I went SOARING over her head. Like, I have distinct memory of soaring. I don’t know how I landed, but it really wasn’t bad. I have no bruises.

However, I didn’t let go of the reins. (Look, Dom! Fingers closed! Hahahaha.)

Aaannnd I got some kickass rope burn on my left hand as a result. It hurt. It hurt BAD. (Yes, I should start wearing gloves all the time. Sigh.)

I yelled at Q. But I couldn’t really be mad. She didn’t run off after I was dumped. And to top it off she’d been so phenomenal for 17 miles. I couldn’t be upset with her.

I remounted and trotted the last < 1 mile of the rail trail, reins only in my right hand, cursing the pain in my left all the while. 

I dismounted to cross the busy road per the usual, and was rewarded with the nearby wetland providing a cool pool of water to splash my injured hand in. 

The last ~2 miles were uneventful. I did everything right-handed. We made it back to the barn. I loosened Q’s girth and then left her while I found an ice pack in the tack room fridge and vet wrapped it to my hand. SO MUCH RELIEF.

From there I untacked the super mare and hosed her down. She stood SO STILL for the hosing. She loved it. Nice and refreshing. 

Her legs were tight and good, and I rubbed a little liniment on them just to add to the refreshing aspect at the end of the ride. 

She had her grain, and then I turned her out with her friends. 

End of ride stats: 8.32 mph average and completed 20.2 miles in 2:25. And all in her halter/bridle. Oh, and barefoot.
Not bad for a horse who has only been back in work a month. Not bad at all.

Love my super mare.

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