Hopped on Farley for a 2 hour ride yesterday.
It's poured here for a week and I was feeling lazy, so I got on bareback to do some dressage in the arena - but she made it clear it was a trail weekend. On the bit, forward, and just a wee bit on the side of almost naughty. She was in the mode for something longer and more physically demanding/less mentally demanding than dressage.
So we saddled up and hit the trails with some other riders. I got a tour of some new trails and let me tell you - they are GORGEOUS. Wild flowers, turkeys, moss hanging off of trees, birds, water, beaches, trees......All of it trot-able, 50% of it canter-able. We walked yesterday. Walking uses FAR more muscles on *MY* body and I really need to do more of it. I tried to keep her up above 4 mph so that she was really moving out and stretching. I would rather keep her moving out, and then stop for a snack break than encourage that wretched 2 mph walk that she sometimes insists is her max during a ride (she cannot POSSIBLY go faster without jigging or walking - yeah right....).
Let's get to the exciting stuff - the nuts and bolts of the lessons tried and learned during this conditioning ride (and yes, even though this was a 2 hour WALK - there's still plenty to learn and apply to an endurance ride).
1. It's definitely summer - I got a sunburn on the top of my thumbs. As always I forgot a nice swathe of skin from my wrist to my thumb. Lesson - wear gloves or learn how to apply sunscreen better than a 3rd grader.
2. Elytes in food - Farley does NOT take elytes in her food during a ride. After sitting through Garlinghouse's seminar at the convention, I now know it's probably because I'm not consistently adding salt or elytes to her food or water at home. I tossed in 1 tsp in her mash and she sucked it down just fine.
3. Elytes in water - I prepared a bucket of water that I have determined will be the elyte bucket (it looks different than my others) with 2 pinches of elytes. She didn't go for it - but I think it's because she really didn't get hot enough and wouldn't have gone to it regardless of what I did or didn't put on it. Will continue to do this - especially after longer, hotter rides.
4. Milk shakes - I premade the mash before I left on the ride and it's AMAZING how much water a pelleted feed will hold. Susan G is right - you can really get a good quantity of water down a horse just in a mash - excellent for trailers. The important thing is to make it and then let it set - add more water and let it set - add more water and let is set. Chances are when you get back to from riding you you'll have to add a bit more water to make it truly milkshake like.
5. A new feed - I picked up some triple crown low starch samples at the convention and have been feeding it to Farley. I still love and use my Elk Grove Stable Mix - but I believe it's good to have options. Not every feed store carry's every feed, and I find that having a minimum of 3 choices at a long ride like a 100 encourages my horse to eat more wet sloppy mash.
6. Elytes for the human - I didn't take water on my ride (My only excuse is I was only planning on being out for 30 mintues, AND it's the first ride of the season....so I'm allowed to be stupid once right?). I was really really thirst at night and really tired even after drinking a ton of water. Then I remembered my elytes!!!!!! I dragged them out of the cupboard where they had resided since last summer and mixed up a glass of acculytes. I felt so much better, and today feel totally normal. Since it's that time of the year, I put the 3 elytes I use in my carry bag so I'll have them with me and there's no excuse to not use them when I need them.
7. Shedding - Farley is shedding like CRAZY. I got out as much hair as I could in the tack areas, but I knew with the amount of shedding hair, the sweat, and the brisk walking I'd probably end up with little hair balls under the saddle near the cantle. Yep - I did. She was a little reactive (she's a wimp) over those spots where there was accumulated hair, but fine. BUT.....if it had been an endurance ride she wouldn't have been fine. If I was competing in a ride during this season, I would probably clip, or do anything I could the expedite the shedding process. I used my Haf pad for this ride, knowing that she was going to shed a bunch of hair and I wanted clean up to be easy......but for a ride I probably would have used a woolback or an equipedic and while the pad would have been dirtier, I may have not had the "hair balls". Lesson? Be very observant and proactive during shedding season if you are racking up the miles.
8. Feet - Farley has been standing in mud for a week. I was almost positive I would be booting up for this ride, as there are some stretches of gravel. However, she didn't seem reactive and didn't seem to notice, so I decided to just go with it. Lesson learned - standing in less than ideal conditions for a while isn't necessarily the death knell for the barefoot horse. A fully transitioned horse should be able to take a few knocks without it crippling it. If small events DO start to adversely affect my horse's comfort, it's probably time to reevaluate my management and see what ELSE is contributing to hoof sensitivity.
That's it for now! I'm one happy camper. Saturday night I took out my piercing studs for the first time, put in some pretty dangly pearl things, put on a flirty dress with some awesome (affordable) accessories and went to the big city (San Fransisco) for the symphony with a friend. And dinner. And drinks. And then Sunday was spent on the back of my horse. And Tess had an awesome session on the weave poles (and we have our first agility lesson today). Could life be better? I didn't think so either.