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Monday, January 16, 2012

This is 100 miles looks like in the beginning

It’s been an uncanny winter - full of clear skies, sunshine, and the highs in the 60’s. 

Can’t say I’ve been complaining - it’s allowed me get some riding in, get plenty of sunshine, and put off dealing with muddy puppies, soft hooves, and where the heck to store coats and winter gear for use.  Can you believe I haven’t even unpacked my plastic bin of coats and other over layers yet? 

Not to fear!  Rain is coming and from what I’m hearing from the “experts”, the last time we had a Dec/Jan this dry, by the end of Jan we were flooded. 

I elected to keep all my body parts intact and did NOT ride yesterday.  A new system is blowing in and Farley was HIGH.  Doing her best impression of The Black Stallion (you know - those stylized images used in the books?  With the tiny head and the mane blowing in the wind?  With the body poised for flight?), I decided it would be a round pen day.  After doing some walk/trot I dug out a lunge line and decided to do that instead.  She can make a bigger circle on the lunge and is more balanced at a canter on a lunge, a compared to the round pen.  She cantered and bucked, and galloped, but generally behaved herself.  It was tricky because the ground is so hard, and there’s dry grass, AND her bare hooves are a bit slick right now, so I was trying to keep her under control enough that she didn’t slip and go down, and (of course, preserve the integrity of that LF). 

Where we are:

We continue to make progress towards a well-behaved pony.  I think if she was 100% and not in rehab I could get to where I need to be in about 2 days (with of course reinforcing the point in the weeks/months afterwards).  As it is, I think it’s going to take me  closer to a month or two because I won’t increase duration or intensity, and I only see her ~3x a week.  Although I’m choosing a slower way, I still make noticeable progress after each session.  After session 1, she no longer crowded me when I had a feed pan in my hand and didn’t even threaten to turn her hindquarters towards me.  After session 2 she started watching me when I came onto the property.  After session 3 she started walking up to me in the pasture.  After session 4, she started asking to get into my personal space, and didn’t even DREAM of coming into it on the lead yesterday, even when she was SURE the horse eating trees blowing in the wind were going to come after us ANY SECOND. 

After getting trimmed by Wayne in the first week of January, and getting out a couple days that week, her hooves have changed SO FAST.  I think Wayne is going to be surprised by the how quickly she loosing retained sole, especially in the heels, and regaining that nice concave sole.  Maybe like cardio fitness, hoof fitness comes back faster if you were once already there….

She’s not 100% sound/even under special circumstances (that’s vet lingo for going in a circle….).  There’s a couple of confounding factors, which is why I’ve elected to continue riding and working her.  She has arthritis in her LH.  This kind of arthritis does better in warmer weather and when the horse is worked regularly.  Farley has been off for a year, and I’m restarting her in winter.  If the unevenness is because of that LH hock, then working her in a slow and gradual manner is actually beneficial.  I’m not ready to inject her hocks again - it’s expensive and until I’m doing something that I feel exceeds my ability to manage the it by long warmups etc (like training for a dressage competition, or doing 50’s or above) than I’ll hold off.  The Left front continues to stay tight and cold with no pain on palpation, and each time I throw her in the round pen she’s a little more even.  There’s no head bob and it’s very very subtle - hard to see unless you have a round pen with regular, evenly spaced markers that you can count the strides on.  At some point, before doing a 50 miler, she’ll go to the vet for an evaluation and hock injections if necessary.  I need to walk the fine line between giving it enough work, but not increasing inflammation, and not putting her at risk for a compensation injury.  Of course, waiting to have it looked at, and continuing work assumes it continues to improve with work, or doesn't start to look like something other than that hock!

I’m looking at a March or April LD.  A lot of it depends on the weather.  The March LD would be with a blogging friend in Nevada - which highly depends on my ability to get over the pass without chains.  Especially if the weather turns bad in the next couple of weeks and I’m unable to condition, that first LD will be pushed to June or later.  Here is my criteria for doing the LD:
1.  Good weather
2.  Good footing.  Hills are OK, sand is not.  Some rocks are OK. 
3.  At least 2 20 mile conditioning rides at least a month apart that I have ZERO concerns about afterwards in terms of soundness.
4.  Farley will calmly, on a loose rein, canter home.  I’m not talking about conditioning her at a canter - all I want is 10-15 strides on the way home that lets me know that I have the degree of control I need for the ride.  LD’s have especially been a challenge for me and Farley - mostly because Farley doesn’t think they are a challenge…..
5.  During our conditioning rides, she will maintain a speed of less than 10mph without a fight. 

Lucky readers - those of you that joined me after I had already completed my 100’s and thought “I could never do that!”, get to watch me start all over again!  I wasn’t blogging in the very very beginning, so it will be good for me too to relive the LD and that first 50. 


  1. A well-considered plan (no surprise, coming from Mel!).

    Won't things be different when you don't say "after such-and-such duration, I'll have her checked by a VET" because you will BE A VET?!

    If you want icky weather, we've got some. Come on up. Bring your cold-weather gear....

  2. And if I want to have a look at that SDF on the left front I COULD!!!! ANY time I wanted! Yes - that is going to be really really really nice.


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