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Re: RC: Working too hard

I would agree with all of Linda's "red flags," and would add a few.  I use a 
heart monitor & I really watch it.  The first 10/15 min the horse can run a 
little high on excitement, but after that, I set my goal at 150 max (if we're 
just about at the crest of a hill, I might let it go to 160-165 for a min or 
so).  If it's hot & humid & a tough ride with a lot of climbs, I'm really 
religious about the heart rate.  This doesn't tell you how fit the horse is, 
but it will help to not override the horse.  If the horse's pulse is running 
high for the type or terrain & pace we're going at, it's a real red flag 
(imagine my panic on the Old Dominion a few yrs ago when Kadance's pulse shot 
up over 200 trotting thru a nice, level wooded trail --- the heart monitor 
pad under the girth had slipped out & was dangling loose!).
IMO, a heart monitor is a good investment.  Without it, I would have thought 
lazy Kadance was going to keel over any min, and without it, I could easily 
let Tempo or Fix burn themselves out as they will run too fast, if allowed. 
Monitoring the pulse can take a lot of work the first 10, 15, 25 miles (how 
hard you have to hold the horse back can tell you how fit the horse is, or 
maybe, just that the horse needs more training!)  Actually, Kadance got 
pretty savvy after a yr or 2 & started out very relaxed, snagging anything 
she could eat that was within range as she trotted along, knowing that she 
was going to be hungry later.
The horse's recoveries at the vet stops are key.  If my guys don't come down 
within a min or 2,  it's an indication we've gone too fast.  If I don't have 
all A's on the vet score, I know I have to slow down.  I like to finish with 
all A's.  I listen to the vets & ask questions  --- if there's not a waiting 
line (figure I paid my entry fee, might as well take any advice they'll give 
me & all have seemed more than happy to comply).
As the ride goes on, if the horse starts stumbling & just feeling a bit 
uncoordinated in rough or rocky footing, it's getting tired.  Slow down.
After the ride, I keep a close eye on the legs.  If the horse has no fill or 
heat an hour after the ride, that's a good sign.  If there's no fill the next 
day, I'm really pleased (my horses are turned out 24 hrs, so if they were 
stalled, I'm sure I'd get more fill).  I've noticed after a tough ride, that 
the horse will take several naps out in the pasture the day after the ride.
I watch how they're walking about the pasture --- do they look stiff?  
Probably the primary way I can tell my horses are fit for the work is that 
I've done my homework getting them conditioned.  I do my first 25 CTR after a 
yr of work --- 25 miles a week, starting out at a slow pace & picking up the 
pace, adding hills, hard packed ground, as the yr progresses. I've only 
competed 3 horses, but they had a good base before their first ride (& are 
all sound, including 26 yr old Fix).  The last 2 I started young.  The 
younger they started, the slower I started & the longer I took to condition.  
Tempo had over 18 months of conditioning on him when he did his first 25.  I 
cannot overemphasize the importance of conditioning --IMO!!!
I rest the horses 4 days before & at least 4 days after a ride (again, they 
are walking about grazing, so are moving).
I must have about 3000 miles of CTR & endurance, 3 pulls (1 for rider 
fatigue, 1 for stitches on cut leg, & 1 for hanging at 64 pulse --- hot, 
humid day & we didn't use ice on my 3rd endurance ride (but I was going too 
fast as well!!))  Several IAHA National CTR top 10's & endurance 50 top 10's 
(my point is not to brag (too much!), but that something seems to be 
working).  Haven't done a 1 day 100 or won anything more than 25 miles, so a 
real expert will have to address competing at that level!
Oh, yes, & enjoy the scenery & company.


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