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[RC] Horse's first 100 - Bruce Weary

Hi Kyle--
You are to be commended for your desire to attempt to try a 100 mile ride. Lord knows it is the historical distance benchmark of our sport, and somewhat endangered. I encourage all endurance riders to prepare for and try a 100 sometime in their career.
A few words of caution: It's true that horses vary, but I would interpret that to mean that some fully prepared horse are better than other fully prepared horses. Not that some unprepared horses are so much better than other prepared horses that they should attempt a 100 without the full benefit of a proper conditioning program. John Crandall is an exceptional horseman with exceptional knowledge and exceptional resources, who did exceptional things with an exceptional horse. He is way off the bell curve, and you would do well to follow the example of what the middle-of-the-road horses are doing on their way to their first 100.
The old adage, "It's speed that will hurt the horse, not the distance," is well intended, but misleading. Speed doesn't hurt horses, and distance doesn't hurt horses. Speed combined with fatigue, and distance combined with fatigue, hurt horses. Fatigue can be from legitimate exercise in a fit horse, or in an unprepared horse asked to do too much to soon with too little conditioning of his weight bearing tissues. An unfit horse asked to do a distance he's not ready for can bow a tendon from tissue fatigue and breakdown, even at 5 mph. The horse's feet and joints can pay a price, as well. I believe the horse's best hope for a successful ride career, and best defense against breaking down, is thorough legging up and conditioning.
I have never done the OD, but I hear it is a tough ride, and I agree with your strategy to do some more 50's and a 75 to see how your horse handles them, before attempting the OD. I think a horse should thrive, not just survive, at a given distance before he's asked to move up. Good luck and let us all know how things turn out. Dr Q


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