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Questions on my weekend ride...

     Hello All,

     I'm still getting success stories about "chunks" competing
     successfully, and I love them!  I'm printing them all out and hanging
     them on Zane's stall door for inspiration. (for him, not me :)

     Anyway, I have a training/conditioning question.  Where I board we
     have a roughly two mile trail that is nice and flat (service road) and
     then we have 10 more miles of trails that in places look like cougar
     rock.  One loop of the trail, about an hour and a half, is up, down,
     up and then fairly level before going down, up, down again.  We've
     done this loop several times at a walk (trot uphill) and though
     dragging his feet tired when we get back, Zane hasn't seemed to have
     much of a problem, and is getting stronger.

     Insert here that we started on the flat trail, walk - walk - walk for
     months, then walk - trot - walk, then walk - trot - trot, then all
     trot until I felt like he was in good enough condition to add the hill

     This weekend, I decided to try the longer 2 1/2 hour loop (which I had
     never been on) because he was doing so well with the 1 1/2 hour loop.
     Big mistake, bad Mommy, didn't know the trail and when we got out
     there it was awful.  Straight up, straight down, straight up again.
     No time in between hills to rest and recover.  An hour in Zane was
     hurting and I knew it, so we found the first safe place to leave the
     trail for a main road (luckily I'm in a state park and there's roads
     every so often) and we pulled.  Walked the rest of the way home on the

     Zane's fine, but he was at that point where if we had continued he'd
     have been in trouble.  My problem is that after going down the first
     two major hills (and I mean major, sitting on his hocks sliding down
     them hills) Zane decided that the best way to get down the hills was
     to go faster.  Not good, since these are largely unimproved deer
     tracks and whacky-whacky-whacky go Mom's legs on trees as we fly past.
      Not to mention it's just not a good idea to do an out-of-hand gallop
     down a steep mountain.

     Easy worked at first to rate his speed, then an out and out Whoa every
     15 feet or so which brought us to careening halts mid-mountain, and
     then he just said to heck with it I'm going down.  So we tried the
     bit.  I'm not a big proponent of laying on a horse's mouth, but I'll
     have to admit I did it.  Didn't work.  Only now, when he sees a big
     downhill, he stops at the top and refuses to go down.  I have a
     sinking feeling it's because he's afraid he'll get hit in the mouth.
     It could be just because he was tired, but he was still okay (ie, not
     stopping and refusing) with the uphills at this point, although he was
     lunging up them in what I guess could be described as a canter.

     How do I re-school him to go down these inclines in a controlled
     manner without hanging on him?  I did lead him down a few of the (ha
     ha) smaller ones, but it was pretty dangerous what with us both
     sliding around on the pine needles.

     Any thoughts or suggestions?  Anybody offer me hope that there are
     rides out there that don't have steep downhills?  <g>


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