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Thursday, October 22, 2009

OCD - who, me?

I'm posting twice today in case anyone needs a break from philosophy....


The word sends thrilling shivers down my spine.

I love recordkeeping. Almost as much as I like planning and researching. Of course, some of the record keeping fun is finding that perfect system for keeping the records.....organizing. I love organizing too.

So now you understand, when Endurance Granny asked in this post what my training/conditioning was leading up to Tevis, the thrill of excitement that yes, I have that information, and yes, it's so perfectly organized I would be happy to share.

Because realistically - how often do you use your review your perfectly organized records? Not often, but if you need them, you can't get them back. Here's what I've used them for in the past:
  • After each injury, I evaluated work loads, time off, terrain, mileage, and early warning signs.
  • I was able to show my vet exactly what I had done for 1 week prior to to the injury.
  • I'm able to evaluate my conditioning schedule week to week, month to month, and year to year.
  • I'm able to realistically evaluate how much I really ride.
  • I can track when I increased her feed, when I cut it, and my notes on body condition.

How is my record book set up?

I use weekly/monthly planners from Walmart that you can get for under $10. I have one for each year, for each horse. I usually get the half sized notebooks, although for 2010 I've switched to a full 8x11" - with starting dressage I find myself wanting to record more details about the ride. The planner must have the month followed by a pages for each week. There must be an information page in the front, a place for addresses/phone numbers, and a few pages for taking notes. I perfer a plastic cover for durability.

Front Information Page

I fill out the front information page completely. I include my full name, address, telephone number (work and personal), e-mail, and AERC number. There are two emergency contacts with phone numbers, and the contact information for my Doctor. The full information for the horse is also included on this page: Registered name, barn name, breed and registration number, AERC number, birthdate, full description, and when I bought the horse. I also put the statement "see address section for barn information".

  • This book is kept in the door of my dressing room in my trailer. Because I often ride alone, I want to give my horse and I the best chance possible of help if we get into trouble. Yep, it's a lot of personal information, but my trailer is kept locked normally. The information is there if it's needed.

Address Section

The address section includes the phones and addresses for my stable, vet, farrier, trainer, and other relevant phone numbers. My stable has additional information - how to get there, what pen is Farley's etc. In case I wasn't able to drive my horse home, someone else could.

  • "But my addresses are in my regular address book", you might say. That's true. How often do you review your address book for accuracy? How often have you wished that the phone numbers were with you on a trip? By putting them in this book, I guarantee that I have to review them once a year as I rewrite them in the new record book. I will never be without these numbers because the book is kept in my trailer.

Notes Section

In the notes section I keep track of items that may be recorded in the calendar pages, but I don't want to have to go look for. These are the things I'm currently recording:

  • Wormings
  • Weight
  • Date I bought helmet
  • Farrier visits
  • Vaccinations
  • Injuries/Vet visits
  • Trailer log - miles and maintenance
  • Competitions (time, abbreviated notes, distance etc.
  • Boot log - purchase date

Calendar Section

The weekly pages are the heart of the record book. For each day I record how many miles or arena time, what we worked on, what went well, what didn't, what supplemental feed I fed, whether I cleaned her pen, weather notes, any observations, whether she got trailered, whether I think there's a problem brewing, heart rates etc. Weekly I total up mileage and number of arena minutes and log on a monthly page so I can see at a glance how much work she's getting.

This system is really easy. I spend ~30 minutes at the beginning of the year setting it up, and then maintain it in less than 30 seconds a day.

So to answer Endurance Granny's question....

What was my conditioning program leading up to Tevis?

I'm going to start with the 2-50's I did at Wild west as my start point. This is what my workout and mileage looked like:

  • Week 0: 2 50-milers at Wild West.
  • Week 1: Took jogging 2x/5 miles (took twice that week for a total of 5 miles for the week)
  • Week 2: jogged 2x/10 miles; TOUGH (ohlone trail) hill work out, 13 miles
  • Week 3: jogged 2x/10 miles; arena 30 minutes; Tevis pre-ride 16 miles/3 hours
  • Week 4: Off (out of town for work)
  • Week 5: jogged 1x/3 miles; arena 30 minutes; Tevis pre-ride 24 miles/7 hours (very hot and I had a person with me on an unconditioned horse)
  • Week 6: Tevis pre-ride 32 miles/9 hours; Tevis pre-ride 18 miles/4 hours
  • Week 7: arena 30 minutes
  • Week 8: Off (out of town for work)
  • Week 9: arena 2x/1 hour
  • Week 10: arena 4x/40 min; Tevis (68 miles)


  1. I'm stunned and intrigued! It is like you peaked at the front end though I'm sure plenty came before those two fifties, hit the middle ground, and then just kept things "working". to roll this around in my mind. Love to read folks training strategy.

    Now post the absolute CURE for scratches (I'm so sick of them) and you will be forever in my debt (but you will have to find me to collect *LOL*). ~E.G.

  2. wow mele, i knew you were intense, but.....seriously

  3. Among librarians, we have a technical term for people like you:


    Srsly, I've never known a cataloger who goes outside in daylight. You are an amazing anomaly! Someday we will have to ride together....!

  4. AareneX, I love the term "catalogers"

    Anyone ride on the east coast?

  5. So thanks to you guys, (once the process gets started it's hard to quit...) last night I spent my ENTIRE evening pulling data out of the last 2 years to see if I could find any trends - I was tracking (on a per month basis): miles on the trail, time on the trail, time in the arena, total time in the saddle - and seeing if there was any correlation to my success or failure rate. So much fun!

  6. Endurance Granny -

    Never had scratches so I can't help you there....Did have to deal with a minor case of rain rot last year - it cleared up with some betadine treatments and peeling the scabs off (~3 weeks).

    I was told that the biggest mistake people make is to bring a tired, over conditioned horse to Tevis. Ideally you peak 6-8 weeks out, and then maintain that fittness. If you look at my log, you will see that 8 weeks out I did 2 50's, but then 4 weeks before the tevis I did 50 miles ON the tevis trail (total ride time: 13 hours). Because of the difficulty of the trail, I fully believe that that 50 miles was harder than any official 50 mile race I could have done to prepare. (and the week before that 50 miles I logged another 7 hour trail ride on the Tevis doing the last 24 miles).

    So think of it less as a 8 week peak, and more of an 8 week peak, with a 4 week "check" to make sure the fittness is still there, and the rest of the time is spent maintaining that fittness with the least amount of miles and time in order to protect from fatigue and injury.

    (this was probably just confusing - sorry)

  7. Wanted to add:

    Looking at my training schedule for tevis this year, I think the last 2 months before the ride went well. What I need to work on for next year is what happens BEFORE those 8 weeks. The previous ride before the 2 50's was back in FEBRUARY - a 65 miler. I also think that riding in the arena more in the 8 weeks prior would keep her fresh and limbered.

    I'll post more on this closer to Tevis 2010 and let everyone put in their input.

  8. If I could only be so organized in my real life...

    The closest I come is noting on the calendar when Estes is wormed, vetted, trimmed, etc.

    I do keep an excel spreadsheet of writing contests I've entered, but that's just so I can keep them straight in one place. Since Estes and I don't compete, we just ride for fun, it never crossed my mind to document everything we do. It's a thought.


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