I have my 11 Warmblood who has done prelim Eventing and is now doing PSG dressage. I want to do a 25 miler this spring just to complete and to enjoy the experience. Where and how do I find info on conditioning - or does someone have some tips for me?
This kind of cross-training will be excellent for you and your horse. And fun. At the top of this topic, there are a lot of links that will provide answers to most of your questions. As a rider of a Hanoverian gelding on many 25-50 mile rides I can give you specifics regarding large horse questions-
Watch out for low branches.
If you need to get off, be sure there is a nearby rock or log to get back on with unless you are spryer than I am.
Be generous with water on his neck, shoulders, and head if it’s hot. I emptied my water bottles onto my boy a mile or so out from vet checks.
Now go have a blast.
What endurance riders told me (often) was that any horse in regular work four days a week is fit enough to do 25 miles. 25 miles sounds like a lot but it’s not really for a reasonably fit horse.
I did my first 25 last year and prior to that just rode my horse on trails and dressage in the ring about four times a week. My goal was to come back together within the time allowed and that’s what we did. Some of our rides were 1 1/2-2 hours mostly walk/trot with a riding club. This gave us some fun long, slow distance rides (as well as the obvious training opportunities that your horse might not need) while the dressage work helped him build the muscle and self carriage to allow him to carry himself easily.
Our 25 was in the big hills/small mountains and our home ground is relatively flat and he vetted all As and pluses.
If my lazy horse can compete, you’ll be fine.
Check out this site: https://www.aerc.org/static/Preparing_for_Your_First_Ride.aspx
It’s such a blast and full of friendly, welcoming people. I wish this message board was as active as dressage and hunter jumpers, so please ask questions! I’d love for us to be more active over here.
I would at least know what the horse’s vital signs are at rest so I would have a basic understanding of its condition. Therefor if not having that info as a bases then now would be a good time to gather it.
We have one young horse (long two year old) whose at rest heart beat is 31… if in dire stress it will elevate to about 45/46 which is at top end of a normal range for most horses
His respiration rate at rest is 10 which again has his natural respiration rate less than normal
Not knowing this in advance he could be stressed but clinically be normal
I feel the same way! For now, I feel limited in that in order to afford a horse in my region, I have to work at an intense-ish job and also for now the human family also requires care and feeding. But, I absolutely, positively am looking ahead to when I can live in an area where there is more trail riding, and when there is more time for it.
My only regret re: distance riding is that I didn’t start sooner, and make time to do it when I had a horse who owned every trail she ever set foot on. She knew what to do on CTRs (we never made it to actual Endurance levels) even when I didn’t. (My current horse does not see the point of trail riding unless he has the job of leading another horse. He loves ring work. He is the accountant type, vs. the explorer type).
I would have said 10 was dead on normal given horses’ resting breaths per minute is 8-12.
Learning your horse’s rate of recovery - how fast his heart rate comes down - under various circumstances is helpful too. For example some horses will drop faster if they eat, others if they don’t.
surely is for him
But what I wanting to make sure is that OP knows what the horse’s vital signs are and know how to check them on the trail
We took horses whose life was going around and around in shows into the wilderness, it was a growth period fro them to do a new task.
Only one was used in Endurance competitions, the others were used in Competitive Trail which is timed but not a race
I did a 15 mile introductory endurance ride and decided that it wasn’t for me. I like to meander down the trail and enjoy the scenery. I had planned to ride my Paso Fino on the ride with my friend and her Paso. When I inquired about the trails and whether there was flooding, I was told it wasn’t bad. When I got there, vast stretches were under water. My Paso promptly refused to go in the water.
I ended up riding my other horse. The ride itself went fine, but we trotted and cantered and still finished last. My friend and I both agreed that we were riding about as fast as we felt like going, and that we didn’t really want to go much faster then that.
The other thing to consider is whether you can find someone to ride with - I prefer to ride every day that I camp. The endurance group didn’t do this. The first day, I rode by myself. Someone started out with me for 5 minutes but her horse was too excited and she went back to camp. The next day, I started out with the 50 milers who started first, and again rode back by myself. I decided their pace was too fast for me and called it a quits when the horses started slipping in the mud.
My friend came that afternoon and we rode that evening, and did the introductory ride the next morning.
No one wanted to ride the last day and I took my Paso out by myself. Managed to get lost and by the time I got back to camp, everyone had left.
One other consideration is whether your horse is okay with people galloping past you on the trail. Your horse really needs to be A-okay with them passing you at speed.
Don’t underestimate your horse’s fitness. Just because your horse can ride 7 miles, does not mean they are prepared for a timed endurance ride. Practice ahead, time how much trotting you do, and how long it takes to cover each mile, as well as your average speed.
Welcome to the endurance world I think you are in MD yes? Are you aiming for Foxcatcher?
Yes, Foxcatcher. I had signed up last year, but we all know how that went… He is a big, heavy horse, so won’t be good for hot weather distance, but this should be good as far as temperatures. Might just need water wings though!
The Foxcatcher is a good first one. It’s really, really well run. And while it’s not flat or anything (thinking rolling the whole time), the footing is good the whole way, there are no big rocky climbs or anything like that etc. The biggest thing about Foxcatcher is because so much of it is open field rather than trail, it’s easy for a horse to get race brained so I would make sure that your horse is really good with other horses passing at a trot or canter. Have you gotten a chance to go out with anyone who does endurance and get a feel for it? I’m in FH and my main endurance horse is being treated for Lyme but I’d be glad to take my B squad girl out with you if you want
Thanks! He has done a number of paper chases, so he has had horses pass him, etc. cant say he is the best about it, but he’s manageable. I plan to start later after the first wave, so hopefully that helps. I have never ridden with anyone who has done endurance. Totally new thing and I will be by myself as well.
Foxcatcher, while being held on rolling grassy terrain and nice woodland paths, is very deceiving. There isn’t a lot of opportunity to give your horse a break, IE walking, because the terrain really compels you to keep trotting. And as much as you think your horse is fit enough right now to do their 25, I would strongly suggest that you get out of the ring, and start doing a lot more trotting cross country. A relaxed, reins on the neck, 7-8 mph trot. Stop your horse every 5 miles and encourage it to eat a couple mouthful of grass, or give him a handful of carrot or apple slices. You WANT food in your horse’s stomach at all times, and you want to encourage the eating.
I rode their first year (2001), doing the 25, and placed. Learned a lot about pacing, made a lot of mistakes, and ultimately those mistakes taught me how to be successful. The following year did the 50, and continued doing their 50s, always top tenning until my pony declared he was bored to death of the terrain. He preferred the mountains and tougher trails.
Still have the 2001 t-shirt.
Read the book Go The Distance by Nancy Loving. Great stuff.
I totally disagree that a horse who is worked 45 minutes 5 days a week will be fit for a 25. It’s a really good way to make your horse incredibly sore. Just because it can follow the pack for 25 miles doesn’t mean it’s fit. ESPECIALLY if you are anywhere hilly. Hills take a lot out of a horse, even a fit one. MAYBE an arab could do that, but certainly not the OP’s bigger heavier horse.
I think they would be fit for a 15.
Be prepared for people who have race brain. They take off at the start like a bat out of hell and it’s easy to get caught up with the pack leaders who are going faster than you need to go. Some of the horses can be really nuts as well so don’t get caught up in it. In some locations especially where it’s flat endurance riders go really really fast in a 25 because it’s not real endurance to them. This is, in general, not good riding. People talk about these people.
we rarely rode endurance rides most all of our riding trails under judges was in Competitive Trail where it is not a race to the finish line. It was an education on how to ride distance, taking care of your horse during the competition and both rider and horse come out OK.
Really never got into the Endurance aspects of riding as we were more concerned about our horse’s welfare. (Since Rider and Horses were judged separately then a combined score would be issued there were many times when the horse would place much higher than its rider)
Totally agree. A group of friends recently did a 10 mile ride. I was shocked at how body sore several horses were the following day. PSG should be a much higher level of fitness than these horses but it’s also more carrying than cardio fitness
Update- we did the Foxcatcher and finished with all A’s and 27/65, despite taking a wrong turn . He pulsed down immediately, trotted and passaged the entire first loop pulling my arms out, and could have done another 10 miles with no problem. Thanks everyone for the help!
Congratulations!! When’s your next one?