Rating your horse's speed...
I train alone (don't SAY a word, Kathy!) By riding, you know how fast your horse goes in a non-stressful condition. You know when he's tired and how long it takes for him to recover. You don't learn all this stuff on your conditioning rides; you also learn on the endurance rides...and you learn year after year.
If your horse is just starting, stay slow. Trot for 5 minutes/walk for 2 minutes...work you way up the time chart to where he can trot for an hour and recover in 1 minute. THAT takes time and many wet saddle blankets.
Measure a length of real estate where you condition or in your pasture. I've got a nicely brush hogged path around my medow that is 1 mile in total length. Along the way, I've tied flags on the fence so I know the fractions. I'll trot that and keep my eye on the clock; this way, I know what a 13 mph trot feels like. Then, I'll canter my mile so I'll know what his different canter speeds feel like. Get the picture?
I'll also do speed drills on this track. This makes it easier for me to know that I've just cantered so much and he recovered at a trot in such a lengh of time & distance. This also helps you to develop an eye and a feel for distance. When curves get in your way, you still know what a 1/2 mile feels like and about how long is should take you at a certain gait and speed.
I've got some hills to condition on as well. I work my guys HARD on the hills to build bone, muscle, and soft tissue. The speed drills are for the heart and lungs (the fastest to come into condition).
On any ride of any length, don't feel the need to "break away from the pack" at the beginning. A couple of weeks ago, Amber Burton started way back...don't know for sure where because I was at the front. None of us were "racing" - we were just moving steadily along. Amber gently moves on up and maintains her forward motion. She ended up a few minutes ahead of the 2nd and 3rd place finishers but that's all it takes to win. Remember, only the 50 or above distances are "races" and those races are won by the rider with the most luck and best strategy.
If I were you, I'd use the 25 as a time to get to know my horse better and get him better acquainted with this sport. Let him trot and canter the slow him down and make him, say, walk up a hill so he'll be using different muscles.
Everyone has a different strategy based on their horses. They've developed these strategies over year of experience with that horse. When they start a new horse, they usually have to adjust that strategy to fit the horse.
Bottom line, GET ON AND RIDE! And, have fun while you're at it!
Susan Young Casey, Princess of Pink, LIW, RRHA, RHS
Semper Obliquo (Always aside)
Glenndale Grace Farm, Ft Gibson, Oklahoma U.S.A.
"Ride on! Rough-shod if need be, smooth-shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride on over all obstacles,
and win the race!" - Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
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- [RC] Rating your horses speed, Laurie Durgin