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Re: [RC] getting for 50's - Heidi Smith

I think if all can do a
slower pace of 25 comp or LD and as the year progresses ride 25's back to
back (here in the midwest we have LD on both Sat and Sun) It really
a good solid base for moving up to 50's.  I really like to have 1000 miles
of comp on my horses before I move them up to 50's.  Speed is easy to
a horse ....but, taking care of oneself on the trail comes with time and
patience for both horse and rider.

Now, see, those are some of the very same reasons why I prefer to start
right out on 50's with most of my horses.  They learn that this sport is a
LONG WAYS and that they shouldn't go too fast.  They learn that they are
going to be out there ALL DAY and therefore it behooves them to eat and
drink.  The distance and the duration teaches them to take care of
themselves on the trail, and it only takes once to teach them that it's
gonna be a long day and that they might want to reconsider their natural
desire to go fast.

What I see happening with some horses (well, many horses actually) when they
only do 25 miles is that it gets so easy for them so quickly that in their
boredom, they really push to GO faster.  And you are right--speed is
something that needs to come later.  It is the fact that they get so fit and
are going so slow that drives some of them almost batty.  I don't think I
have ever owned a horse that would really be content doing 1000 miles of
shorter distances.  Even when we did CTR, we usually did rides of 35-40
miles, and found them to be utterly boring before we ever got to 1000 miles.
(I have a total of 600 miles of CTR--it is an educational experience that I
cherish, but I don't think I could stand to repeat it!)  But when we step up
to 50's, the day is long enough that they are quite content to go slower,
and we avoid the problems of early speed.

Again, you have to "read" the horse and do what is best for him.  Yes, I've
seen horses that could quite happily do 1000 miles of CTR or LD to get a
base.  They are not the sorts of horses I seek for my personal mounts.  (And
I'm no speed demon, either--I just personally like to ride a horse that is
physiologically "designed" so that 50 miles is a walk in the park.)  I like
to ride horses that have 100-mile gaits and mentalities--and constantly
going shorter distances just isn't their cup of tea.  And again, the point
here is understanding that horses are NOT all alike--and that we have to be
open-minded enough to allow each horse to do the optimal thing for HIM, not
for what fits our personal picture of how it "ought to" be...  (Although in
that vein, I do advise people to seek out horses that fit their own riding
preferences--God help you if you try 1000 miles of LD on the ones I like to
ride, and I'd not be very happy riding one that needed that.  So best we
each seek horses that fit our own riding styles, and have the level of
horsemanship to understand when we encounter one that doesn't, and likely
belongs in the hands of someone else.)



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[RC] getting for 50's, June Scheunemann & Mike Bernsdorf