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[RC] RC] building a base - Roger Rittenhouse

This building a base - and finding out just when your horse is ready..
is something you never really get right. You get better, mostly
because you try not to repeat all the errors of the past horses.

My old mare - still going  'may' be able to do an LD  but at 25 why
bother.. was well over-ridden back in the 80s.. I thought you had to
ride everyday and  many hours .. and both Sat and Sun. I think I rode her
20 to 25 miles per day over the weekend. Not real fast but walking and

In her second year.. a real classy rider from SC who lives in PA
told me in her well known Southern draw -- something  like this.."
young man .. you have a very nice mare there, but you are going to ruin
her.. if you dont back off take it easy and let her rest ..."

Maggie  let me have it for sure.. I took that advice to heart and
Fasha got 3 days per week off and sometimes 5.. She got stronger and
went on until about 20y, her last 50 miler at 19y, with about 500 plus
miles of 2 day NATRC rides since then,

I think had I not listened to Maggie, I would not have this mare
Sage advice from ' been there done that'

I applied the road running - 'real' marathon training to my horses -
it worked as Truman said.  It worked for me so why not try it with the
Hard easy - Fartleks days Quality works - IT sessions.
The advent of the HRM sure made the guess work better but she had
about 10 yrs of miles before we started doing HR conditioning with her.

Two horses followed her .. one made it one time around the od100 at
11. I tried never to over do it with the others.
Omni was rushed a bit I think. Since I lost my up and coming horse
shorty after we moved here, I was looking for another endurance horse.
Sort of the old timer rider looking to start over with the new horse
where the old one left off.. cant do that ..
New horse New Game
Since he was 6 I felt I could get him going faster and use experience to
get the job done faster, Sort of worked however due to his problems,
we had to back off.. none related to the conditioning program. I guess
his down times were what saved him from me pushing to hard, But I read
him well and was able to get into LDs and a few CTR within the first
year. We have great trails to condition on here, not easy but not too
hard to hurt them.
I only rode a max of 4 days per week. Rarely two in row.

I followed the basic program of sustained work at fixed HR  or
within ranges of HR, then increase HR over time then added distance.
I did very little of the 'x number of miles per day programs' used by
many. I let him tell me what he needed based on feel, attitude 'looks'
and feedback from the hrm.  I think Omni was the first horse I
conditioned from the onset based on the use of the hrm as the primary tool to 
let me
correlate what I 'saw' and felt with real data points.

His first 50 was in the summer of his second year.
We had to work thought a few more physical issues but with that
resolved I felt he was ready to get serious.

I increased the speed of all the workouts both the short ones and the
longer ones. Hard trots and canter where the trail permitted.
It of course became more difficult to obtain high sustained HRs. He
would trot  and canter at HRs so low I felt we were not getting
So rather then go out for miles on miles - I went for shorter
distances 5 miles or less, worked as hard as it was safe.
I saved his legs from all the hard beating high miles cause.

About the only time I really picked up the hard miles was going into his
3rd yr with me ( 9yrs old)  (2000)I felt a trip to NM and the AERC NC was in 

We focused - both of us - on running UP hills and working trot down..The
base had been built - I think he was 'based' in about 3 years. He did
great that year. Except for one judgement error at Biltmore

In 2001 I let him run faster in the rides. The program at home became
just maintenance. I dropped to 2 rides per week unless we raced the
week before, Then I only rode on Wed , very easy to check him out and look
for problems.  I tried to ride every weekend one day - either a ride
or a moderated work at home.
We did a few multi-day camp trips to see  how he would do with a multi
- which was my plans for last year.. That did not happen. So after a
year off he has shoes back on and hopefully we will get to work now.

I think it will take a bit longer to get Kat going. Mostly due to his
mental attitude. I think he could cause harm to himself. So we will
take him out slower and develop him for the long  haul.
I would like to see him do a 50 this year, but unless he shows hidden
talent, LDs may be all he will do. As a coming 7 yr old with a good
body, he can take the work load, but I not sure his mind set is ready
for it.
Carol and I are working out the ride schedule and camp trip schedule. My
plan is to get Kat going, then go to camp and show him all the camp
stuff. There is a great camp within 3 hrs of here with good stalls
 .. and lots of very nice trails.
 Some horses are naturals, it turned out once Omni figured it out he
 did great and just went on and on. I plan on just riding  him at
 home and going to the rides. Lds to start, then 50s later tis year.

 If Kat needs a full year to learn, then he can wait till next year
 to compete.
  If we   work out the management issues and get him focused and decide to
 keep him ( by April) then he has to last me for many years to come.

 I can take the time to build him slow.
Roger                          mailto:roger@xxxxxxxxxxx

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