Thursday, January 23, 2020

Working Toward 600 Annual Miles (or more?!)

One of my big "number goals" for this year is to attempt to ride at least 600 miles.

I've tracked my annual mileage with increasing frequency since 2012 with the Endomondo app and my Garmin watch, from which data can be transferred to Endomondo. From 2014 through 2016, I managed 500+ annual miles. Then, in 2017, I moved to Canaan and the horses remained in Elkins. As a result, my 2017 and 2018 annual mileage was around 370 miles.

The Endomondo output for my first ride of 2020 with this little queen. The most exciting part of this ride? We cantered for a long stretch that previously would have resulted in constant spooking from Q. While she was uncertain about a few boulders this time, she kept her forward motion and kept me in the saddle!

As everyone knows by now, I moved the horses home last year. Prior to the move, I had to be more judicious with my available time and was almost exclusively riding Q in an effort to get her fit and ready for a 50-mile race. Riding Griffin and Stan - especially Stan - went on the back burner. This didn't have a huge effect on the boys' fitness levels because, prior to the move, they had 28 acres of 24/7 turnout and were part of a very active herd that moved all over the property during a 24-hour period. However, moving the horses home changed the turnout situation significantly. They went from 24/7 turnout on a large tract of varied terrain to a 40' by 60' dry lot with occasional (weather-dependent) turnout on two one acre pastures, which they didn't have access to until late September.


Riding more became a priority due to the limited turnout situation. Fortunately, my barn commute went from 50 minutes one-way to about 50 seconds one-way allowing more available time for riding. From August through November, I rode a minimum of 8 days each month (so, roughly, twice a week). It wasn't a lot, but considering that I was working 40 hours/week, still finishing the barn & fences, doing daily barn chores, and cutting and splitting 3-4 years-worth of firewood most weekends (oi vey), that frequency was pretty good! By the time December rolled around, the barn and fences were complete and the firewood was cut and split. As a result, my riding frequency in December increased to 14 days with several twice-a-day rides.


Most of my rides are around 4-miles long as it is easy to do a 4-mile circuit (that could be repeated for more distance) from the barn. I will also be gaining access to a 5-7 mile route with tons of elevation gain quite soon. (I can't tell you how grateful I am to be able to head out and do that without trailering!) I'll be utilizing these trails often to help preserve my pasture, which is where my jumps and dressage letters are. To offset the lack of an arena, I incorporate dressage movements on trail quite often. I also practice oodles of natural jumps, ditches, water, and banks when I'm on trail, which Griffin absolutely loves. It's all about making the most of what you've got, yes?

The rides I put in during the latter half of 2019 really helped to set a base of fitness on the horses. Thanks to those rides, I've begun pursuing longer conditioning rides off-property (when the road conditions allow me to trailer off the mountain) this month. Q has been out for two longer conditioning rides so far and Grif has been on one. Each ride was only a 15-20 minute trailer ride and each was in a different local location.

I'm already having so. much. fun. planning and implementing these rides. And I honestly cannot remember the last time I felt so excited to plan/schedule rides. It is such a thrill to have so many options so close to me!

Post-ride Griffin looking alert and happy following a 3-mile canter to end the 13.4 mile ride.

My current hope is that I can trailer off-property for at least two conditioning rides of 12+ miles per month. Two longer rides per month coupled with shorter rides twice a week is a schedule that has worked rather beautifully to keep Q in competition-shape in the past. Grif does well on that schedule as well, but he does even better if I can fit in one more ride per week.

And Stan? Well, as I've stated ad nauseam, he owes me nothing at this point in his life. If I wanted him in shape for some sort of distance competition, he'd need a 6-day-a-week schedule. But fortunately for Staniel, my only goal for him is to keep him fit enough to keep his joints happy so he may continue to enjoy his senior years with ease.

Qdle (cue-dl - a new nickname I find myself using quite often) couldn't be bothered to open her eyes for any photos after the ride. Seriously, I have 4 photos and her eyes are shut in every one. 

Hopefully, 600 miles in 2020 will be quite achievable! And hopefully I'll end up with some fit, happy horses as a result of all those miles. No matter what, the first full year of having the horses home is bound to include many more miles than I've enjoyed in the past couple years, and I will enjoy every single one!


  1. a 50 second barn commute sounds so heavenly! glad you are getting in quite a bit of riding at the moment!

  2. damn, Q looks great! I do about 600 miles a year, it is like you said, a couple shorter rides a week and a few trailer-outs for longer adventures. It certainly keeps a middle-aged pastured horse in shape no problem! Your trails sound so great, I wish we had more places for any sort of speed. Another fun thing to track in addition to mileage is elevation gain. I love to see how much I do in a year, you have lots of mountains, I bet you might easily beat my 80,000 feet of gain in a year!

    1. Ooohhhhhh... I really want to figure out my annual elevation gain now!!!!! I loooooooovvveee that idea.

    2. Welp. You've created a monster in me. I just upgraded my endomondo to premium so that I can track my elevation gain for the year. Last year I was only at 42k. Hoping to top that for sure this year! I also just scored a new GPS watch on eBay last night.... My data love knows no bounds lol

  3. Oh I do miss the trails. You are so so so fortunate to have a place with trails you can ride too. It’s an hour drive minimum to get to trails near me. Some day when Wyatt is a teenager and doesn’t want to be around me so much I’ll get back out there. I hope you over reach those goal and see many happy trail miles

    1. I didn't realize you were so far!! Ugh. I hope you can get back to it, too.

  4. Anytime a commute shortens from hours or minutes to seconds is such a huge win and I'm happy that you have your firewood stockpile so you can really enjoy your time with your horses!

    1. I'd like to never split firewood again. Or load and unload my truck with it.