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LSD. Now those are some letters I haven't used since high school. Anyway.
I agree Karen, there is a huge difference in how you ride when concerned with the miles you ride. A 5 year old horse would far much better, assuming the base is there, doing a 2 day or multi day 25 or 50  slow, than a 5 year old competing in a one day 50 at a fast pace. And there is definitely the mental thing. What is the difference, besides the age, of a horse just starting out at 5 and a horse starting at 10? The 10 year old may have a head start mentally, but physically, it would be just as challenging for either one.
My loony Lance could have physically done 50's, 100's or multi-day slow rides when he was five. Mentally however, it was too much for his little brain to assimilate. We did a few 25's and 35's and then I gave him 2 years off. He has LD (learning disabilities) so I have been tutoring him.
Now we will start again but this time we are doing 50's. Physically, he is ready. But we are not racing, just using every ride as a training ride. Training for the starts, the horses passing, the horses behind, the boogie man in the woods, you know. All that fun stuff. Will I be setting a bad example because I can't train for that kind of stuff at home? I am thinking that if we ride and finish slow and easy, he will realize, it is not so bad after all. Basically, I am just starting him and while we are not doing multi day rides, it will feel like it to both of us:) More than likely, I will be getting off and walking as well because it will be 25 or 35 miles before he starts to slow down and take it easy. Will I be setting a bad example then?
If I ran track and was at a meet, I would have to run as fast as I could and try to beat the competition. If I played basketball and went out to just practice my shots, my teammates would shoot me!
But in this sport we can use our "competitions" anyway we see fit. If I trained my horse well and wanted to use a 25 miler as a speed workout, I could. That doesn't make me a "hot-rodder". If you want to compete and win, you have to train for some speed workouts. That is what builds up the cardiovascular system. ( how does that saying go? walk for muscle, trot for endurance, gallop for wind) What is the difference if I do it at a ride or do it at home? Except if I do it at home, ya'll won't have anything to talk about! :)
If I want to use a multi-day ride as a training ride and walk my horse half way, I can, whether I do it at ride or at home. There is nothing wrong with that. Even if he is only 5. If there is a problem that you can't see, that is what the vet checks are for and hopefully, you pull or get pulled.
Nobody has every learned a thing by doing everything right. Because how would they know, then, that it was the right thing to do? 
Just because someone has 2000 miles under their saddle, doesn't mean they rode all those miles perfectly. Just ask them. What is right for one team, isn't the best thing for another. You have to look at the overall picture of the team. If the horse is fit, and mentally prepared for what you are about to ask of him then you try. If it doesn't work, you just learned something. Rethink your strategy and try again. If it does work, then you did what was right for your team and that is a valuable lesson as well.
Now that I am older, LSD is a good thing, even two days in a row ;) Who'd a thunk? Speed ain't so bad either when taken in light moderation. Why do I have the munchies?
Lisa Salas, The Odd FArm

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