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Re: RC: Pony Power, Little Big Horses? -- SAY WHAT?

>OK, here we go.  I have a problem with a horse/pony (whatever) top tenning a 
>25 miler on his first outing.  What were you thinking?  Sorry, this is
>out kind of harsh, but this is no way to build a distance horse/pony 
> However, I definitely would not be bragging about 
>a horse/pony (whatever) top tenning a 25, ESPECIALLY at 4.5 years old!!!!  
>This is horse abuse, plain and simple.
> Not to get the LD thread going again, but I couldn't 
>stay quiet on this one! 

Sorry Sylvia, but I have a little bit of a problem with some points on this
post.  First of all, let me say that I agree with the "4.5yo" part, but
it's the rest of the post that bothered me.  

What it says to me is -- when I enter my horses in their first LD race, and
should I, or any of those with me, Top Ten, we would be guilty of plain and
simple abuse of our horses.  HOGWASH!!  

Here's my situation:  

I started getting interested in endurance (along with some friends and
students from my barn) about a year and a half ago.  We started a long,
slow process of conditioning the horses under a strict program that I set
up (thru a bajillion hours of reading and studying...and with a lot of
tremendous help from ridecamp. ;-))  Some of the horses that we have been
working with are my schooling horses (worth a lot to me since they provide
for a goodly portion of my income.)  They started training for the
schooling horse positions (by me) at about the same time we started getting
interested in endurance competitions.

On to our training approach.....  The horses currently in our barn each did
4-6 hours a week of dressage training in our arena for several months
before they headed out to the trail.  (Our arena is covered, BTW, so this
is a year 'round thing.)  When they start on the trail, they started with
about 2 hours of a slow-medium pace and then gradually worked up to where
they are now, which is able to do 6 hours (with a 30 minute lunch break) at
a fairly quick pace without showing any signs of fatigue -- and we take
them out on the trails about once a week.  They continue their dressage
work (4-6 hours) during the week.  We recently did a "two day" test on them
-- about 6 hours per day with about 12 hours in between rides and they were
superb -- literally *leaping* out of the trailer and dancing around when
they got home on the second day (30 minute haul from the trail.)  

Where we ride is not a stroll in the park by any means!  We ride in the
Cascade foothills, mostly at the Tree Farm (where the Fishcreek team
trains) or at the Les Hilde trail area (where the Bully Wully was held last
year...and where I have been riding poker rides for 10+ years.)  We ride
with heart rate monitors and use them diligently as guides.  We've all
spent a fair amount of money on getting good, appropriate, well-fitting
equipment.  (Some of you may remember me running around at the convention
buying literally *everything* for one of my students, the one that bought
the Arab gelding from Cynthia and Ramey.)  This has been a serious subject
to several severely anal-retentive women!! <bg>  And we have not had one
incidence of lameness, excess fatigue, or metabolic problems with any of
the horses. 

All this considered, please note that NONE of us (except for one friend
outside of our barn) has done even a Limited Distance ride!  Catherine's
horse had done a couple of 50s and a multiday, but had been off for a year
and needed a fair amount of dressage schooling for conditioning.  He's been
in training since last October.  Two of us did the "Fun" ride at the Bully
Wully last September -- the horses were ready for the LD, but I was on call
that day and had found someone who could cover for me just long enough so
that we could go up there, ride the Fun ride, and figure out the system,
vet checks, make sure we had everything we needed, etc.  (I'm approaching
all of this with the mentality of a rider instructor because I would
eventually like to be certified in this area also.)  We came in 2nd and
3rd, I think...and we stopped to pick blackberries!!  All As on our vet
cards....and we came home with a lot of very useful education!  My husband
went along to see what the crew people did.  Not exactly an abuse pattern

Our horses are now ready for 50s, but due to my work schedule (can't get
any Fridays off yet for a while but waiting on word of a new position) and
our camping stuff having to be collected, we haven't started competing.  We
expect to be out there in July...and we plan for our first competition will
be a 25 or 30.  This will give us a good reference and a chance to see if
anyone has any problems (horse *and* human) before we each do our first 50.  

This has all been a group effort...and we're proud of how we've done so
far!! ;-)  And I would be surprised if one or more didn't make it into Top
Ten on their first LD (there are 5 ready now, 3 more starting their trail
training this summer (one is a 13.3h Welsh/Arab pony with a MW adult...on
the pony thread <g>,) and my husband's horse (a 5yo QH mare -- and all he
plans to do with her is LD.)  She's just getting started under saddle and
will be going out on the trails next year.  There will also be possibly 2
others from the barn...all of which will be conditioned the same way.

BEWARE of harsh blanket comments...or blanket comments at all!!!!!  There
isn't a one of us that could ever remotely be thought of as abusing our
horses if we should happen to Top Ten our first time out!!!  There are
several people on ridecamp that know me...and would, no doubt, say the same.

Tyee Farm
Marysville, Wa.

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