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[RC] Is this horse ready for an LD? - Jennifer Thompson

Okay, this may seem silly to some, since I'm only asking
about a 25 miler, but I don't want to hurt my horse....

I bought a new gelding in November.  He's 9 yrs old, was
evented last summer, then turned out for a few months on 80
acres.  His life prior to that was that of a pleasure trail
horse, and also did some ranch duties up in Oregon.

I bought him in late November , and discovered that while he
could go quite a while on the flat no problem, he could not
handle hill work at all.  Acted like he wanted to die.  :)

The month of December consisted of a lot of walk/trot and
slow hillwork, about 60-90 minutes, three times a week.  By
the end of the month, his wind had improved greatly, so I
think what I experienced with him at first was just a
temporary lack of fitness due to a few months off.  He was
in great shape prior to that, as he was 3-day eventing that
summer, like I said.

Jan, Feb, and first part of March, I upped the distance and
intensity, doing 5-6 miles twice a week, with *lots* of hill
work at both trot and canter.  Then, one ride on the
weekends of about 11-12 miles, walk/trot/canter, but on
level ground.  He handled all of this just fine and was
recovering quickly even from our uphill sprints.

Well, since about mid-March, due to travel, weather,
chiropractic visits (no riding for several days after!) and
you-name-it, I've only managed to get about two or three
short rides in per week - I haven't been able to do any of
our 12 mile rides at all, let alone 20-25 mile "practice"

Each ride is 5-6 miles, but still a lot of hills.  We
typically walk out for 1/2 mile, then begin a 2-mile ascent
up a long, fairly steep fire road.  We do the two-mile
stretch at a fast trot, with some canter thrown in, if not
an all-out gallop up to the top.  He is panting quite a bit
at the top, but recovers quickly and is ready to go again
after walking just a few minutes.  We then loop a different
way around, to come back down, which consists of short very
steep uphills, downhills, and some flat spots.  We
trot/canter the flat and uphills, walk the downhills.  This
loop we make is about 5.5 miles, maybe a little more if I
take different side trails, etc.

This routine has continued for the last six weeks, and I'm
scheduled for our very first ride ever, on May 3rd - the
Lakeside Classic in Bradley, CA.

I have about two weeks left to condition.  :(    Does it
sound like we've done enough to do a 25?  Should I plan on
just walking it, with just a little trotting here and
there?  Or does the fact that he can handle a lot of hills
at a fast pace for 5-6 miles mean he can handle an easy 25
just fine?

Thanks for any advice.

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